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Is Orchard “in or out” of the multi-school merger?
That’s a question the Orchard Original Board won’t answer without input from its stakeholders.
School boards in Orchard, Clearwater, Ewing, Elgin, Neligh-Oakdale and the Unified District have until July to decide whether they are “in or out” of merger talks, according to Orchard advisory member Nate Schwager.
Schwager is representing Orchard in these talks.
“The next meeting was set for some time in July, wanting to know whether you are in or out,” he said.
At a meeting Tuesday afternoon, the six board members (the original board combines the four advisory members with the two unified) decided the best way to gather community input would be by sending a survey to registered voters in the Orchard district.
“I think we’ll get a better grasp of our community (with a survey) rather than having a meeting. This will touch 100 percent of our registered voters and you know you won’t get that kind of a turn out at a meeting,” Teri Hergert said.
Principal Cathy Cooper told the board she Orchard has 699 registered voters — 572 in Antelope, 111 in Holt and 16 in Knox.
Board members said they wanted input from the community since there were so many unknowns.
“Are we prepared to be that large of a school? Are we prepared to travel that far for events? Are we ready to have 60-75 kids per class?” Hergert asked. “There are a lot of things that go into this size of a school.”
Several board members said surveys would allow people to answer honestly and eliminate conflicts in attending meetings.
Some of the questions being considered may ask for opinions on the quality of education at Orchard, support of unification, adding other schools to the unification, researching multi-school district consolidation, having a facility outside of Orchard and at what levy amount would people support a merger.
Surveys will be sent later this week with a return deadline of July 1. Postage will be paid with original Orchard funds. The board will meet at 4:30 p.m. July 10 to discuss results. At 7 p.m. the Orchard advisory board will meet for its regular meeting. The Unified board will also meet in Orchard at 7 p.m. Adding to the schedule will be the Clearwater Advisory meeting in Clearwater at 7 p.m.