Saturday, June 20, 2020

Exeter-Milligan School Board Discusses Consolidation

Exeter-Milligan school board met on Wednesday, June 10 in the Milligan gymnasium.  Board members and over 20 audience members observed social distancing at the meeting.

Chairman Adam Erdkamp opened the meeting and welcomed the guests and their input.

The consensus agenda was approved and the board addressed old business including summer project updates.  Superintendent Paul Sheffield reported on the bathroom updates in Milligan and offered tours to those in attendance after the meeting.

The second point of old business, the discussion on the possibility of a consolidation with another district, was the main draw for most of the guests. 

Erdkamp reviewed a timeline of public meetings and school board meetings he had worked up.  He noted that the Exeter-Milligan and Friend committee will meet again at the end of June.

He proposed that the board have their regular meeting in July and a special meeting just for consolidation discussion with the public.  He hoped that both district boards would meet together as well.

Erdkamp also hoped to hold a regular meeting and a special meeting in August and September.  In September he noted he plans to “present to the public and take a straw poll and possibly a vote from the board.  There has been a lot going around that this was going to be a quick decision . . .don’t think that is what anyone on the board was wanting.” 

The public was invited to comment and they asked if the board would be sending the students a survey for their opinion on consolidation.  Sheffield and Principal Laura Kroll noted they have a survey ready to give to the students.

Erdkamp responded, “I think kids’ input is good.  I don’t think we can go solely off that.”

When asked if the board had made a decision between area districts, Erdkamp indicated that he was inclined to look more positively at continuing the discussion with Friend versus Fillmore Central.
The audience asked about cooping versus consolidation, why the board was going in this direction, a timeline that it might happen and how it would benefit the students.

“We are having the meetings to help us mold our path to see what everyone wants.  We don’t have a specific path we are trying to head,” responded board member Kendra Oldehoeft.

Several current Exeter-Milligan faculty were in the audience and weighed in on having more students in the classroom.  Third grade teacher Laura Steuben commented, ”If you have a class with one or two kids it’s not an efficient use of teachers. Smaller classes are not always the answer.  Kids learn a lot from each other.”

Math teacher Mary Kay Pribyl added that she had a single student in an advanced math course who completed more coursework on her own that another group of student in another period because she wasn’t held back by classmates, “It works both ways.”

Kroll noted that there are 68 students 7 -12  and 27 teachers(K-12), “We are just trying to figure out how to be effective and efficient with what we have. . . we would stay EM forever if we could.”

After an audience question Erdkamp explained the board was committed to just reducing the teacher force through retirement if a consolidation happens.

Several audience members requested the board do a vote through technology because of the fear of COVID 19. Board members encouraged those with questions to attend their meetings.

Mary Kay Pribyl noted that Exeter-Milligan has produced seven students winning a regents scholarship or high scholarship at UNL in the last eight years.  “How specifically is this going to improve their education?”

Erdkamp responded, “We have a very good district  I just want to have enough kids to continue this education.”

Board member Kendra Jansky added that she hoped to see more class offerings. “I think we do a great job, but we could do better.”

Steuben piped in adding, “Collaboration is a great thing. If we have two districts who are wanting to come together and make a great district why wouldn’t we?”

Kroll hopes to see the consolidation sooner rather than later, “I would like to see some of our veteran teachers help with the transition if we do consolidate.”

Sheffield mentioned the fiscal aspects of consolidation, ”We want to be able to provide the best education for our students but be fiscally responsibility.”

The board moved on to new business discussing the replacement of the GMC Yukon.  The board indicated that Sheffield should use his best discretion in purchasing a replacement vehicle.  Erdkamp abstained from the vote.

The board approved new and revised policies as presented.

Under the information and discussion section Sheffield explained the steps the administration is taking to prepare for students to return in the fall, “We will have a better picture hopefully at the July board meeting.”

The board noted that a para at the Milligan site resigned and will be replaced by Andrea Classen.  The board set the July meeting for Wednesday, July 8 in the Exeter band room.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Throwback Thursday Week of June 15

The Exeter Avenue of Flags started in the 1980’s with twelve flags, flag poles and spots to hold them and has grown to 100 plus flags flying at the Exeter Cemetery every Memorial Day.

The Exeter American Legion Auxiliary members saw the idea in the early 1980’s in a Legion newspaper, recalls Erma Adamson. Adamson, Tess Moor and Margaret Moravec were the members of a committee formed to pursue bringing the idea to Exeter.

The Auxiliary members dove into the project, purchasing 12 flags and flag poles. They enlisted the assistance of the Legion to provide the manpower to dig the holes and help with the flag pole assembly. The flags were placed near the war memorial at the Exeter Cemetery. 

The 12 flags represented the 12 Exeter Legion members who had lost their lives in service to their country, the gold star boys. From there it grew and continues to grow. Individuals with ties to Exeter donate a flag and purchase a flag pole to be added to the avenue in memory of their loved one, according to Adamson. The names of the veteran are written on the flag in an appropriate spot.

GFWC/ NFWC Exeter Club members Bonnie Cudaback, Elaine Oldehoft and Judy Dinneen attended the International Convention on June 11th and 12th and acted as hostesses at the State Night Banquet.

The purple toilet showed up in Exeter this week.  It was an idea from the Fillmore County Relay for Life group to help raise awareness and funds for the cause to cure cancer. The toilet can be removed from your yard for a donation of $15, but for just $25 you can have the toilet removed from your lawn and pick someone else's lawn to place it in. To keep the toilet out of your yard you can donate $25 for "toilet insurance."

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

How to Lose Your Tree/Grass Dump. . .

These pictures were taking by Village Maintenance Supervisor John Mueller at the tree dump this week.  Just a reminder that the tree dump is for tree branches and grass only.  These items have been removed.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Exeter Aquatic Center to Open this Summer

The Exeter Village board met on Tuesday June 9 in the village office.  The board social was able to maintain social distance in the office.

The board approved two bids from Sargent drilling to do some routine maintenance on well one and to cap well 62-1.

The board received a dividend check of $9900.99 from First National Insurance Agency.

The main topic of the board meeting tonight was the question of whether the swimming pool would open this summer.

When the majority of the board was very positive about opening Clerk Becky Erdkamp advised the board to form a committee to write and approve an updated COVID 19 version of the rules and regulations of the pool.  She presented several examples of regulations from nearby communities.

The board unanimously approved opening the Exeter Aquatic Center this summer with an approximate July 1 opening date.  The board discussed several scenarios for opening and will release rules prior to the opening.

Village maintenance supervisor John Mueller noted that before the pool can be open the cracks will need to sealed and the area has to be dried for the cracks to be fixed.

The board discussed occupancy, taking each patrons temperature, having two hour sessions and keeping a roster of each person in each session.

They also discussed the extra cleaning that will need to take place between each session.

Chairman Alan Michl added, “A lot of it depends on what the Health Department lets us do. . .if there is a spike we won’t be able to open.”

Mueller gave his report noting that he had done some work on the roads today.  “We are trying to figure out where the water is supposed to go.”

During the Marshals report board member Justin Harre asked the board if the marshals could focus on the highway where semis park in front of the no parking signs.  

The board also discussed some issues of semis parked on the street and implements parked in town. Letters will be sent to offenders.

The board had stopped progress on abandoned houses due to COVID 19 but Clerk Erdkamp heard from the inspector and he is able to proceed with the work.  

Clerk Erdkamp reported that March sales tax was $17344.34 and April Keno was $41.56.  She reported that the CARES act will reimburse the village for extra costs associated with COVID-19 including extra cleaning supplies, medical supplies and protective equipment.

The board set the next meeting for July 7.