Exeter-Milligan school board met on Monday, November 15th in Exeter with twelve audience members.
Once the board worked through the consensus agenda they heard a curricular update from social studies department Brian Murphy and Jordan Marr. The teachers noted that they are covering the topics required from LB399. (first required in the 2019-20 school year).
Many holidays are required to be covered by the district including Martin Luther King Jr. day, Veteran’s Day, and Memorial Day.
“We give them the citizenship test at the end of their seventh grade year and want them to be able to pass it by the end of their senior year,” explained Marr. “After they have had a full year of civics we give the test again.”
Murphy also shared with the board some of the changes that were made to social studies requirements. “We are seeing a lot of critical thinking skills,” explained Murphy.
He is finishing his master’s degree in history and will be able to offer dual credit in history through Concordia University.
Marr gave an indepth curriculum report on his classes including sixth and seventh grade history, and American Government.
After thanking the teachers for their report the board reviewed several policies with no comments.
The board invited public comment and Murphy opened up about the topic of cooping all sports and activities with Friend. “I still believe this is a good option, the best option. At the very minimum we need to consider fall sports.”
He talked about the advantages of having junior varsity games and stronger teams. He emphasized the fact that “Competition is good for kids, it helps raise your talent.”
The only negative he saw was the challenge of travelling for practices, “I feel the positives outweigh them.”
Assistant Volleyball Coach Lisa Kanode agreed with Murphy and added that there are low numbers of junior high students. She also emphasized the importance that competition can play both on the court and as a life skill in the future for students
Several students in attendance were also receptive to cooping. Jozie Kanode noted that as a varsity player she often had to play on junior varsity risking an injury. “Other activities would be great as well like one act. . .we would have more plays and with more people we would have to learn less lines.”
Olivea Swanson didn’t think that travelling would be a hardship as she plays softball on the FC/E-M/F team and travels to Geneva for practice during the season.
The board moved on to their agenda noting that Eric Milton is the chairman of the negotiations committee for 2022-23 and will contact the teacher representative Laura Steuben to start the process.
The board then responded to the sports cooperative opportunities. Superintendent Paul Sheffield explained, “I asked to put it on the agenda again to keep it on the forefront. I did inform the Friend administration that we were going to talk about it but I didn’t hear anything back from them.”
Chairman Adam Erdkamp opened the discussion, “I think we have got to start looking at this.”
Board member Alan Vavra understood that “basketball was a solid no from them – at least that is my take on it.”
Board member Kendra Jansky agreed, “I don’t know that our basketball numbers are at a spot where we need to do that.”
“If we are going to talk about it we need to talk about all activities,” added Board Member Paul Jurgensen.
Principal Laura Kroll added that the district didn’t have one act this year, “because the kids are just spread so thin. . .having more numbers would allow us to have those things for those kids that fit that niche.”
Erdkamp added, “I guess it sounds like to me we are willing to talk about it.”
Vavra again reiterated his concerns about basketball, “I don’t see it. I’m not saying I’m against it. But there is only one way to find it out – if we could get volleyball that would be great. I wouldn’t make basketball a deal breaker.”
Several board members expressed a concern that basketball might be a sticking point for both districts.
Erdkamp noted that Superintendent evaluations are due by December 1 and board members also received the 20-21 audit report for their review.
After hold a brief discussion on using the separation incentive program to their advantage in improving the district the board reviewed the playground replacement project.
Sheffield explained that a committee met with two companies who presented several options “This is meeting a need with visual impaired students we have.”
The bid also included some fence work, removal of the old playground and cement work. The Creative Sites bid was $265,000 and will eliminate the gravel on the playground which will also “elimate issues for the visually impaired students who fall in the holes,” added committee member Shelli Mueller.
After a discussion on funding for the project the board accepted the bid from Creative Sites and also approved the Little Blue Natural Resources District and Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District Hazard Mitigation Plan.
In their final action for the evening the board approved a contract for Brandi Perez as the Language Arts instructor.
The next meeting was scheduled for December 15, 2021 at 7 p.m. in Milligan.