The Exeter-Milligan School board met via zoom on Wednesday, May 13.
The two main topics of conversation were the wrap of the school year and what the future holds for Exeter-Milligan.
Sheffield addressed the board explaining the paperwork that will have to be completed due to the COVID-19 closing of school. “We have to file an affidavit with the state even though the state forced the close. It states that the district didn’t meet rule 10 for the required hours so we have to ask for special permission for an exception.”
Board member Kendra Oldehoeft asked about the possibility of continuing e-learning in the fall.
Sheffield responded, “Everything we are hearing says that we are going to open up. . . a lot of things can change but we are banking on it.”
The second priority for the board during the meeting was a continued discussion on the possibility of consolidation with another district.
All of the board members were emailed a pro and con list on consolidation that was compiled by the administrators and board members. Board president Adam Erdkamp noted, “This list is not exhaustive, it’s just a starting point. Eventually it would be nice for the community to look at it if they have questions or comments.”
Erdkamp read through all of the pros and cons and asked the other board members for comments.
Board member Tim Pribyl spoke up first, “I think it (consolidation) would be a terrible decision. What happens in 20 years if we get too small and have to go to FC then. Most of the goals can be achieved with an unification instead of a consolidation.”
Erdkamp asked Sheffield how many total employees the district has and commented, “I’m not interested in doing anything that would cost any of those people their job,”
The discussion around unification versus consolidation continued with Erdkamp sharing his research.
He explained that there are 244 school districts in Nebraska, 77 are consolidated and three are unified but one district that is unified is consolidating as of June 5.
His point in sharing this research, “If unification was a good option I would think there would be more taking advantage of it. That’s a red flag if it’s such a good thing vs consolidation.”
Erdkamp spoke with the superintendent of the district that is moving from a unification to a consolidation. “He has been there 21 years. He though there were pros and cons with consolidation. He would not suggest a unification, it’s a better fit for short term issue.”
Pribyl argued that unification ia a great way to start towards a consolidation. He expressed concern over maintaining a balance of representation of all the communities on a consolidated school board.
Erdkamp responded that the Exeter-Milligan board has maintained a balance without establishing precincts, “If it was good enough 20 years ago why isn’t it good enough now?”
Board member Eric Milton added, “Two communities get hurt if you vote to dissolve this district.”
Erdkamp noted that in their committee discussion with the Friend committee Friend indicated they were not interested in unification. Erdkamp talked to the Friend board president and he confirmed that Friend is not interested in unification.
Pribyl responded, :”It seems like this is getting pushed on us really fast. . .I think it needs to slow down if anything we need to coop sports for a little while.”
Erdkamp and several other board members agreed that there would be multiple public meetings before they would take any kind of vote.
“I agree 100% we are supposed to represent the patrons so we want to hear what they have to say,” added Pribyl.
There was a brief discussion on cooping addition activities with Friend next year. The board discussed the possibility of cooping golf and track. Exeter-Milligan just had one female golfer and the possibility of one male golfer. Friend girls golf with the boys golf team.
Sheffield was fairly confident that because of some changes in the Crossroads Conference they would be more open to accepting a cooping EMF into the conference.
The board moved on to accept the contract of new first grade teacher Haley Johnson. They also approved a three percent raise for all non-certified contracts.
Erdkamp brought the board’s attention to an alternate calendar that was prepared by Sheffield.
Sheffield noted it was “just to be prepared if we are required to start after Labor day.”
Board member Kendra Jansky added, “Starting after labor day is better than starting at home.”
Sheffield informed the board that E-learning does not count toward the required school hours. He is going to work with Senator Brandt to introduce a bill in the legislature that would allow up to five snow days as E-learning days.
Erdkamp brought the meeting to a close praising the administrations graduation ceremony, “I am glad they were able to have a ceremony together because that was what they wanted. I did not attend but I could see that it meant a lot to the kids.”
The board set the next meeting for June 10 in Milligan at 8 p.m. The noted that they would meet in the gym to be able to social distance.