“No interest” in numerous school plan; District #18 to send sub-committee to July merger meeting

Home of the Eagles, photo by The Elgin Review
Elgin Public School, main office building. Elgin, Nebraska

Everyone can relate to it – feeling compelled to attend an event which you really aren’t sure you want to be a part of.
Representatives from the District #18 Board of Education will do just that later this summer, likely sometime in July – attend a meeting where neighboring school districts Neligh-Oakdale, Clearwater, Ewing, Unified District and Orchard will discuss options going ahead in the future.
The board, after making it clear it’s intention is only to listen to the discussion but has no interest in pursuing a merger, approved a motion on a 5-0 vote to send a two-person subcommittee to the next area meeting. The sub-committee will be appointed by School Board President Steve Heithoff.
Superintendent Dan Polk said Friday morning, “While Elgin sees no benefit to our district and has no interest in being involved in a numerous school plan, it was decided they would send someone out of respect for their neighbors.”
School board vice president Steve Busteed, filling in for Heithoff who was excused from the meeting due to health reasons, said he couldn’t see how any merger now could work out to benefit District #18. He said it’s likely (property) taxes would double for District #18 patrons in the event of a merger.
Board member Stan Heithoff said area school superintendents should “be talking about working together, about different classes.”
However, he added just seconds later how, with District #18’s low levy, he couldn’t see Elgin “joining in a cornfield school.”
No District #18 board member expressed support, in any means, for pursing a merger.
Neligh-Oakdale School Board President Dave Wright, who attended the meeting with Ron Gilg, said his school district doesn’t have an answer, but wants to give everyone the opportunity to discuss the matter.
He spoke about how, over the course of 60 years, dating back to his father’s time, there’s been discussion about bringing schools together. He said now, with the situation involving state aid and real estate taxes, the idea of merging school districts “seems quite interesting.”
“It’s come down to us, as school board members, to fix our problems, find solutions for the future,” Wright said, claiming efficiencies can be gained and the educational experience for students can be improved.