summerland

THIS CONCEPT DRAWING shows a new school for the Ewing, Clearwater and Orchard school districts that will be located in the country between the three communities. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring.

EWING — Finding the correct fit for staff members of the new Summerland school district was one of 20 agenda items discussed during a joint meeting of the Clearwater, Ewing and Orchard boards of education here on Wednesday evening.

“It’ll be a jigsaw puzzle,” said Steve Williams, legal counsel with KSB School Law, in Lincoln.

Clearwater and Orchard Superintendent Dale Martin said questions about how the new district will fill teaching positions have arisen since the bond project passed Nov. 12.

Current staff will continue for the 2020-21 school year.

“There wouldn’t be any reductions in force or any other changes until 2021-22,” Williams said. “Maybe there’s enough retirements to take care of it. If not, you use reduction in force.”

At that time, the RIF policy of the Summerland school district would be in effect, if necessary.

Williams suggested the new Summerland school board, which will be in effect June 6, look at early retirement and buyout policies, which can be accomplished in several ways.

“You set the terms of who it applies to,” Williams said, in regard to early retirement policy.

A targeted buyout offers “a lot of flexibility,” according to Williams. “You can say we’re only giving buyouts to elementary teachers or only high school teachers. You can set those up in any category.”

Decisions on staffing won’t be made until a year from now, “when we see who we have, who we need, who is leaving, to see what our staffing needs are at the time,” Williams said.

If positions are not reduced through attrition, then a RIF policy could be implemented.

RIF policies have one rule: A probationary teacher cannot fill a position that a tenured educator can fill.

“(RIF) really is an analysis of what is the best fit for the district,” he said.

Administration will compile a staffing plan, based on curriculum, to see which programs are heavy on full-time equivalency.

Orchard board member Deanna Clifton asked when the policy would be in effect.

“My fear is losing really good staff because they don’t know if they’re going to have a job or not,” she said. “Like staff we may have been able to keep, but out of fear, they leave.”

While April 15, 2021, is when the district would be required to notify educators if their position is part of a reduction in force, Williams said the new district “should have a good handle on” staffing needs in mind by December 2020 or January 2021.

In other business, each board selected two members to advance to the new Summerland school board, effective June 6.

The Nebraska Unified District 1 unification agreement, of which Clearwater and Orchard are a part of, expires June 5.

One new member will serve a two-year term, while the other will fill a four-year stint.

Steven Thiele and Marty Kerkman of Clearwater, Ed Nordby and Jeremy Wagner of Ewing and Nate Schwager of Orchard were selected by a peer vote.

Terri Hergert and Kristi Schutt of Orchard tied for the second Orchard seat. After several votes continued to end in a tie, Orchard board members agreed to finalize the vote at their regular December board meeting.

In other news

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In “Prairie University: A History of the University of Nebraska,” Husker teaching luminary Robert E. Knoll provides what is considered the definitive history of the institution, spotlighting its birth as a land-grant university in the late 1860s.