Better Together?

BOE’s to vote on consolidation in three months


Exeter. Milligan. Friend.

Three towns, each hosting at least one informational meeting about the prospect of consolidating into one school district effective the 2025-26 school year.

This has been a topic of debate, turned discussion, over countless cups of coffee and board of education meetings for years. Soon two BOE’s will no longer have agendas listing it as a discussion action but will be calling for action.

In April 2024 both the EM and Friend BOE’s will vote on whether the districts should take the EMF sports co-op to the next level and consolidate to become effective on July 1, 2025.

Superintendents Derek Anderson of Friend and Paul Sheffield of Exeter-Milligan have petitioned the Nebraska Department of Education to form a new district and sought board of education involvement and input.

With that groundwork in place, both districts are working to educate their communities on what a potential consolidation would look like with listening and learning sessions.

The first two meetings were held on Jan. 17 in Milligan and Jan. 23 in Friend. Cards were distributed to ask questions to be addressed at future public comment meetings.

The next two informational special joint meetings for the public to learn about the process will be open for public comment and will allow answers to questions that were shared at the previous informational meetings. These meetings will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 27 in Friend and March 4 in Exeter.

After these final two special joint information meetings, each BOE will meet in March with consolidation on the agenda as a matter for discussion and public comment. Voting on consolidation will take place at the April 2024 meetings for each BOE.

“Throughout this entire process, our focus should remain student-centered. We must remove the emotional aspect from the equation and employ logical reasoning in reaching our conclusion,” Paul Sheffield, EM superintendent, said. “Over 20 years ago, the leaders of the Exeter and Milligan districts set aside their personal feelings to do what was best for their students. Let's follow their example. We can honor the past by living in the present and looking to the future to create something even better.”

“Be part of the solution, not part of the problem,” Sheffield said.