Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Exeter-Milligan School Board Votes Against Consolidation with Fillmore Central


Exeter-Milligan School board met Wednesday, June 9th at 8 p.m. in Milligan with over fifty patrons in attendance.

After quickly working through the consensus agenda, the board opened the microphone to public comment.

Several in the audience spoke with the consensus that Fillmore Central is not the best fit for the district. The majority of speakers encouraged the board to stay Exeter-Milligan for as long as possible.

JJ Becker, a parent from Exeter, expressed, “I don’t think at this time that Fillmore Central is the best fit.  We may be a one school county at some point but now if we go to Fillmore Central our kids will be going from a one on one situation in the classroom to being a number at Fillmore Central.  I know we’re trying to forward think here but I think we should take a little more time and see where that leads us.”

Superintendent Paul Sheffield took the opportunity to step up to the mic and give his opinion as a patron and taxpayer.  “I have been very upfront with the Fillmore Central people to let them know that I did not think that this direction was the best for Exeter-Milligan. . .I am not worried about my job as I can retire in a year so my job security is a non-issue. . .In my opinion, going with Fillmore Central is not the best option.”

Exeter-Milligan special education teacher Anita Mueller spoke on behalf of her students.  “For the special ed students, I don’t think Fillmore Central is the best option.  With the small numbers we have the students get excellent service in our small district.  They would not get that at FC.”

Jared Johnson expressed his concern for the board do what is best for the community and referenced both retaining jobs and building the economy of the community.  “The kids will adjust, they will be ok, but we need to see what’s best for the communities.”

Tom Pribyl also expressed wanting to stay as the Exeter-Milligan district as long as possible.  If it came down to a consolidation he encouraged the district to dissolve instead and let the patrons take their tax money where they want to.

After closing the public comment period the board looked to Sheffield for a summer project update.  He explained that “the great migration has begun” and in addition to moving the classrooms to Exeter they are moving some rooms around in Exeter.

The board briefly touched on the budget process for the next school year before Sheffield introduced a the idea of updating the playground at the elementary school.  He noted that the district has several students with vision issues and the current playground does not meet their needs.  He suggested using funds that are leftover from the JPA project.

He will work on some estimates and ideas for the next meeting.

Moving on the items the board planned to take action on, School Board President Adam Erdkamp thanked the audience for their comments on the feasibility study with Fillmore Central. “I appreciate Fillmore Central’s efforts with us and meeting with us. . .I don’t think it’s the right fit for Exeter-Milligan right now.  The biggest problem is the staff question.  They have said they would figure it out and that’s not good enough for me.”

Board member Dan Kallhoff agreed, “There are too many unknowns with Fillmore Central.  I’m not saying you need to jump in with Friend.  Give us a couple of years, we just closed this school (Milligan) we need to see what happens.  We’ve been through too many of these meetings we just need to take a breath.”

Board member Eric Milton also agreed but noted, “We do have a problem and we need to solve it.”

Board member Allen Vavra wanted the patrons to understand, “We’re not slamming the door with Fillmore Central, we’re just not proceeding right now.  We just don’t think that this right for our kids, our staff, our communities right now.”

The board voted unanimously not to continue consolidation discussions with Fillmore Central.

Adam called for a motion and the board voted unanimously to no go with FC.

The next board meeting was set for Wednesday, July 14 at 8 p.m.


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