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After a feasibility study and months of discussion about Clearwater, Orchard and Ewing building a new school, there’s now a new district included in the conversation — Neligh-Oakdale.
But that doesn’t mean any school has been removed from the conversation.
Administrators from all three districts agree that opening the lines of communication is a positive, and all three districts plan to discuss that approach at their upcoming board meetings next week.
Ewing principal Greg Appleby said he welcomes discussion from surrounding schools.
“This is all preliminary discussions at this point,” said Ewing principal Greg Appleby. “What needs to happen in the future? We don’t know, and that’s why discussions need to take place. These are talks to see where things go and if people are interested.”
On Monday, April 10, the Clearwater-Orchard Joint Advisory board plans to discuss and provide an update on a recent committee meeting with Clearwater, Ewing and Neligh-Oakdale.
About 10 miles away on the same night, Neligh-Oakdale’s board will have similar discussion. Neligh-Oakdale Superintendent Scott Gregory said his board plans to form an official committee for all discussion with “neighboring school districts.”
Two days later on Wednesday, April 12, Ewing’s board will discuss “feasibility issues and reorganization plans.”
Gregory said he was not aware his district was specifically listed on the Clearwater-Orchard agenda and said Neligh-Oakdale wouldn’t rule out discussions with Clearwater.
He said the board plans to create a committee who will then talk to “any and all” districts.
“You would have a couple of members for when they’re having discussions with other school districts that we would have a seat at the table,” Gregory said. “Nothing definitive. It’s just that we’d have a seat at the table, hear what’s going on and then be able to make the best decisions for the district.”
Nebraska Unified Superintendent Dale Martin said he anticipates an update on a recent meeting between Clearwater, Ewing and Neligh-Oakdale board members on a discussion on the future of the three schools.
So where does Orchard fit into this discussion? Although it’s not specifically mentioned on that part of the advisory agenda, Martin said Orchard can be part of that discussion, should the board members want to be.
“I think not including Orchard at this point goes back to the Orchard board members saying they did not want to discuss anything until after site location was determined,” Martin said. “Will Orchard be part of future discussion? That’s really up to those board members.”
Ewing Board Member Pete Funk, who has been very vocal about building a new school, said Orchard very much remains in the thick of conversation. Funk said he hopes Orchard wants to be part of future discussions.
“I’m not deterred by the split of the Clearwater and Orchard,” Funk said. “We could have went to O’Neill 17 years ago. Our position was to give these people time because it’s a heck of a lot closer,” Funk said. “Be patient, hope they come around and we all go six or seven miles.”