Candidates for the Exeter-Milligan
School Board were asked to give a brief biography and also respond to the
1. Why did you decide to run for school board?
2. How do you see your role on the Exeter-Milligan School
3. What are the three greatest challenges facing small
school districts in Nebraska?
4. What are solutions you propose to solve the challenges
facing small school districts in Nebraska?
5. What strengths do you have that would benefit the
Exeter-Milligan school board?
6. Where do you stand on the consolidation issue? Pro-Friend
or Pro-Fillmore Central or no consolidation?
My name is Kyle Svec. My
wife, Rebecca, and I have two sons, Kole, a junior, and Tucker, a 7th
grader. I graduated from Milligan High School in 1987 and from Wayne
State College in 1991 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. I spent the
next 14 years working as an editor and columnist at the Hastings Tribune before
moving back to our sixth-generation family farm near Milligan. I’ve been
employed by the City of Geneva for the past 15 years, the first four years as
the Parks and Recreation Director and the past 11 as the City
Administrator. We also farm and raise cattle.
I have a diverse background that
hopefully can add value to the school district, and a passion to see that our
students get the best educational and extra-curricular opportunities possible.
The role of elected officials,
first and foremost, is to set policy and direction. With that, it is essential
to work hand in hand with the Administration to create the best educational and
extra-curricular environment possible in the most fiscally responsible way,
while at the same time, being accountable to the public that elected you.
Rural schools offer countless
benefits. They are also faced with challenges. At the top of the
list are: Attracting and retaining quality administrators and teachers;
Offering top-notch educational and extra-curricular activities for students;
Battling the declining population of rural areas.
The number one asset of any
organization is its employees. We can’t settle for average or
middle-of-the-road. We are fortunate to have great employees.
However, if we are using salary comparisons of our peer schools as a guide, we
need to be at the top, not the middle, to assure we can continue to hire and
maintain a top-level staff.
Similarly, we need to stay ahead
of the curve with our educational and extra-curricular offerings. In order to
stay relevant in rural areas, these investments can’t be shorted. Once we
fall off the pace, it is hard to get back to the top.
We need to continue to find ways
to attract people who want to live and work in the area. The utilization
of rural broadband has opened many doors and Covid-19 is changing how companies
think. They are finding efficiencies with employees working from
home. We need to capitalize on these. If you polled recent
graduates, many would love the opportunity to return to rural areas to work and
raise a family. More jobs=more families=more students=successful rural
I have experience crafting and
implementing a governmental budget that is very similar to the school
district’s budget. In my current job, I have planned and overseen more
than $20 million of projects, including working with bond companies on
financing and special elections. I have experience working with TIF (tax
increment financing), as well as determining valuations and setting tax
levies. I have been involved in many projects that have utilized state
and federal funding resources and I have testified before the state legislature
on issues of importance to Fillmore County. One of my primary job
responsibilities is promoting economic development with the goal of retaining
and attracting businesses. A unique characteristic of my position is the
opportunity to keep learning through new projects and ever-changing policies.
I have managed employees for the
past 25 years and am well-versed in employee relations, insurance and
compliance issues and all the general issues that go with overseeing the
day-to-day operations of a public entity that operates on a $6 million annual
budget. I have served on numerous local, regional and state boards
throughout my life that have provided me insight and contributed to my knowledge
on the processes and creativity needed for elected boards to work together with
the administration and the public to move in a positive direction.
History has shown consolidation is
an unavoidable topic in regard to public education in rural areas. Exeter
and Milligan have proven how successfully it can work. History also
indicates that about every 20-30 years rural population and enrollments drop to
a point that the topic is at least discussed by many districts. Taxing
implications, educational opportunities and cost per student typically drive
these conversations; however, for some it comes down to issues of losing the
identity of your town or school, community vitality, job loss or whether one’s
kids will have the same opportunities when it comes to activities. Truth
is, all these factors are valid and need to be evaluated and scrutinized to
determine if consolidation is a healthy option for the district. These
discussions are rarely easy and deserve a slow, thorough and open process with
public involvement and input.
ERIC MILTON - Incumbent
1. I want to make a
difference in our rural community and be active in the education of our
2. My roll on the Exeter-Milligan School Board has been to
learn what our administration and staff need in order to maximize the
experience our students have at Exeter-Milligan. We try to do this while being
good stewards of the tax payers’ money.
3. Student numbers in rural Nebraska continue to decline. The state Legislature at any time can put a
burden on the rural schools as we continue to lose population which also costs
us representation in our state government. Changing regulations make it
difficult on small school districts because we only have so much staff to keep
up with all these changes.
4. Additional housing would helpful in our district and many
districts similar to us. We recognize in our communities that we are able to
attract families as long as we have a house for them to live in.
We must remain vigilant about what the Nebraska Legislature
is doing, that can have a negative consequence on our district.
5. Patience and the ability to listen are strengths I feel I
have. I also understand that not every person on a board will agree on every
subject matter, and I am okay with that.
6. When you look at our student population today, and the
projections moving forward, there are obvious concerns about the number of
students attending Exeter-Milligan. While being the smallest student population
in the county, and one of the smallest in the state, it does present its
challenges. However, it also presents opportunities for our kids. We know
consolidation is very hard, but Exeter-Milligan has been extremely successful
with what was done 20 years ago. As a district, we will be very successful if
we go through another consolidation at some point in time. To be for
consolidation, I would want to see what the package looks like for our
district. The Friend package included retention of our staff, activities in our
communities, increased educational opportunities for our students, and keeping
our taxes the same or a little lower. I would expect that a Fillmore Central
package will do similar things for our district. I feel that it is the job of
the board to look at a potential package with a district, negotiate the best
package possible for our district, and then present that to our district for a
vote. I do believe that the public should have the final say in a
consolidation. I don’t believe that being for one district over another, is as
important as what our citizens feel is the best for our district when they see
an equitable agreement.
ANTHONY DUE – Write-In Candidate
Hi I am Anthony Due of Exeter. My wife, Tara and I have 5 children. I work
on our family farm near Cordova and have served in the United States Marine
Corps Reserve since my graduation from Exeter Milligan High School.
1. I will have kids in this district for the next 20
years so I would like to be more involved in it’s future to try and ensure all
students of Exeter Milligan get the same amazing education, friendships, and
experiences that I was able to enjoy.
2. To ensure the citizens of the district are always
informed and their concerns and ideas are heard without a bias opinion.
3. As I am running for the Exeter Milligan school board
that is the only district I am concerned with and our challenge in my opinion
is student enrollment.
4. We need to work with our communities and local
businesses to create more opportunities for employment and incentives to move
families into the district.
5. I believe my military experience will bring a
desperately needed strong leadership role to the board and assist in making
good outside the box decisions that will benefit the district.
6. No consolidation
Hi, I'm Paul Jurgensen from Cordova. My wife Amy and I have 2 kids attending
school at E-M.
Is an RN with a Bachelor's degree from Midland University, and I graduated from
SCC MIlford and am now a farmer.
while back I inquired about being on the school board. When I was told
there may be a couple vacancies, I felt it may be a good time to run.
feel some of the biggest challenges facing our school are class size and
funding. E-M has done an exceptional job with sharing teachers and
combining sports with other districts to give our students the best education
and best experiences possible. It is proof that good things can happen
when working with others.
am a good team player. If elected, I would take a step back and consider
all of the pros and cons to any decision that would potentially affect
the education of our students; or have an adverse affect on the taxpayers in
Given the right scenario, I would support a consolidation with any neighboring
district that would come to the table and give us mutual support. Not
losing teachers, neighbors, and classmates would weigh very heavy on my
recent Curricular Audit between the E-M and Friend districts stated that if
there were more students in each grade, it would create an opportunity that
would allow for splitting into groups tailored to the different learning styles
of each student. I feel that would be a "win" for every
matter which district we do a study with, it will probably yield a similar
I am Allen Vavra. My wife Carri and I have three children and we live in
Exeter. I graduated from Milligan High School and obtained an Associate
of Applied Science degree in Ag. Business Management from Southeast Community
College Beatrice. After living in Lincoln for a few years, Carri and I decided
to move back to the community we grew up in to raise our family. I
currently am the location manager for Farmers Cooperative in Exeter.
I believe that our school is the backbone of our community and would like the
opportunity to be part of guiding a successful future for the Exeter/Milligan
To review essential facts, consider the ideas of others, present personal
opinions during board deliberations and be transparent and accountable to the
School finance, student enrollment and hiring and retaining quality teachers.
Setting a vision for the school district that represents the values of our
community. Developing policies to help improve student achievements. Hiring
teachers that are endorsed in multiple areas.
I work well with other people. I am open minded. I am involved in the
I don't feel I have all the information I need to have a solid stance on the consolidation
issue at this time.