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While Clearwater-Orchard Public School will dissolve at the end of the year, the Cyclones will remain.
The Nebraska Unified Board voted 5-0 early Wednesday evening to dissolve the agreement and separate as schools. However, Clearwater and Orchard will co-op activities, including sports, band and drama, pending approval by the Nebraska Schools Activities Association.
Per the vote, both Clearwater and Orchard will have their own PK-12 at respective sites and use "creative schedules" to keep the students working together in such classes as band. They co-op all activities as the Cyclones, In order to field a Cyclones co-op football team, Superintendent Dale Martin said they will file for an exemption with the NSAA board since they will be in the middle of the two-year scheduling cycle.
"It looks like all the activities would be allowed by the NSAA as long as their board approves those," Martin said.
In the public participation portion, Clearwater-Orchard student Creston Bertschinger announced a petition to the board.
“I started a petition to keep our schools together. I got 20 to 30 signatures of students, Orchard and Clearwater both,” Bertschinger said. “I had a lot kids that more than likely would have signed it, but were afraid of what their parents would think if they would sign it.”
An emotional Terri Hergert added her sentiments on what the board should do after attending the Clearwater advisory board meeting earlier this month.
“I called a meeting between Joe and Peggy and Dale and we had a very long discussion and at that point I said, I am willing to throw out the rotation if we can come up with a plan that works for everybody," Hergert said.
Board member Marty Kerkman urged everyone to come together, cooperate and give the split a chance.
“I hope the communities, the advisory boards, everybody take a step back, and try to make it work, because if it doesn’t work, we don’t have anywhere else to go at this point, we both don’t have enough kids, so we need each other, I hope we all help each other," said Kerkman.
Joe Thiele echoed Kirkman's statement. Adding that he wishes that they could have kept the students together.
“I don’t want to say that a split is ideal, because I don’t think it is, keeping these kids together is what would be ideal," Thiele said "But we need to be able to work this out and move forward and stay together and get past this.”
Board member Peggy Liska read a prepared statement, which received applause, voicing her issues with the advisory boards.
“This is a no win situation, and the biggest losers are the kids, we have all lost sight of our job which is to make policies and educate our students, all students," Liska said. “Now the unified board is being asked to correct the advisory boards inability to get along. Being part of the board means you have to agree to disagree and support a board decision. I hope this is the end of all of this.”
The motion passed 5-0 with votes in favor from Marty Konopasek, Joe Thiele, Terri Hergert, Marty Kerkman and Terra Williby. Peggy Liska abstained.