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School may be out for the summer, but board members have been busy discussing a consolidation of up to five local districts.
Several of the districts have plans next week to discuss preliminary numbers regarding a merger of up to five local schools — Orchard, Clearwater, Neligh-Oakdale, Ewing and Elgin. Not all of the districts have finalized agendas for next week’s board meetings, as of press time, so its unclear how many boards will discuss a potential consolidation.
Neligh-Oakdale Superintendent Scott Gregory said he, Clearwater Advisory Board member Regina Krebs and Clearwater Principal Mike Sanne have been working on preliminary financial aspects of various mergers, from three to five schools. He said they shared those numbers at a meeting with district board representatives on June 22.
“What I did was I took the AFR (Agency Financial Report) from the NDE (Nebraska Department of Education) and then I just went by folk’s budgets and kind of roughly what that would be and just kind of extrapolated a little bit from there,” he said. “The building stuff I haven’t done much work on, or any as a matter of fact, but I think they probably have that in their heads as to what that’ll be.”
Gregory said he hopes to have “tighter numbers” before publicly discussing them at his board’s meeting on Monday, July 10.
“We’ll have some specifics down for numbers and for evaluations. I think that will be a good thing for everybody to know,” he said.
As for a timeline for school boards to potentially vote on consolidation, Gregory said he and the other administrators are simply “brought on as consultation on the numbers” and not privy to all of the information or meetings.
However, when asked if that could happen in August, Gregory said it won’t be “a rush-rush deal.” He went on to say, “I don’t know necessary how that can be done. There’s still a lot of pieces out there.”
Gregory said he recommends the boards seek more information before moving forward.
“Just from my vantage point, I don’t think they’re probably ready for that,” he said about a vote next month. “There would have to be more leg work done with the schools and even more meetings arranged.”
The numbers presented on June 22 showed a five-school merger having approximately 1,000 students with a $50 million facility bond, along with multiple options for other variations of a consolidation.
Gregory said the Neligh-Oakdale Board will discuss potential consolidation numbers in greater detail on Monday, June 10. The Orchard Original Board will discuss future planning at its meeting Monday as well.