Idaho City schools were closed Monday following the death of a longtime city resident and school employee.
Bill Phillips, 48, died at his home in Idaho City Sunday evening, said Basin School District Superintendent John McFarlane.
Phillips worked in the school district for 23 years — as an aide for three years and a teacher for two decades.
The district notified parents about the closure via email, text and voice mail about 3:30 a.m. Monday. McFarlane and one of the district principals then personally called 50 other staff members so they didn’t hear about it secondhand.
The schools superintendent said the closure was needed to get staff together to grieve as a family and put services in place for students. Counselors will be brought in to provide support Tuesday.
“Everybody knows Bill. We have a veteran staff, and many of them had worked with him for 10 years or more,” McFarlane said.
Phillips was very active in the community, organizing Sunday night men’s basketball, community softball and serving as vice president of the Idaho City Historical Foundation.
A local EMT and two Life Flight paramedics were on scene Sunday night when Phillips was conscious. He went into cardiac arrest, and paramedics were unable to revive him. They don’t know why his heart stopped; an autopsy was scheduled for Monday.
Phillips grew up in Idaho City. The city had only an elementary school at the time, so he attended North Junior High in Boise and graduated from Boise High School in 1986.
After high school, he served in the U.S. Marines and was honorably discharged, McFarlane said. He earned a bachelor’s in education, with an endorsement in history, from Boise State University in 1992.
About 400 children attend school in the Basin School District in Idaho City. The elementary, middle and high schools are all on one campus.
Phillips taught history in the middle school and high school. He also taught driver’s education. He was head coach for the volleyball team, and had coached boy’s basketball. Friends and family expressed their sadness on Phillips’ Facebook page.
“R.I.P. to the best volleyball coach/teacher/friend/confidant ever! Forever in our hearts! You will be missed,” posted one former student. “Sending condolences to your family.”
Phillips’ mother, Rora Canody, is a former school board member. She is the administrator for Boise County’s Planning & Zoning Department.
Bill Phillips is survived by his longtime partner, Brandee Kline, and one daughter, Alexee Kline.
A public funeral for Bill Phillips is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday in the high school gymnasium. Alden-Waggoner Funeral Chapel & Crematory is handling arrangements.