A special meeting among Lyons-Decatur board members was had the evening of January 21st. Board President Trevor Preston opened the meeting, stating the purpose was to “give the board the means to gather perspective and discuss freely, in this case, issues regarding the direction that the school could possibly head. No decisions are going to be made tonight,” he said.
Athletic Director Bruce Knaak and Principal Derek Lahm were asked to be present to discuss the current status of co-op discussions between Bancroft-Rosalie and Lyons-Decatur.
Talks Requested by Tekamah-Herman
Preston read a letter sent to him and Oakland-Craig board president Pete Thiele, from Tekamah-Herman Superintendent Brandon Lavaley on behalf of the school board. The letter was an invitation to continue conversations between schools. The letter stated, “These proposed conversations are intended to see if there are any joint experiences, whether they are collaborative, cooperative, or consolidated, that could be of mutual benefit to all of our districts. The future of education in rural schools is cloudy, at best, and anything we might be able to do to collectively maintain our schools and communities in the long term should be investigated.”
Overview of the Past
Preston updated new board members with a description of past discussions that had happened in 2013 and 2014 between Lyons-Decatur and other school districts.
Preston said that Lyons entered into discussions about a potential Burt County consolidated school in 2013. “In the fall of 2013 we were informed that Oakland-Craig and Tekamah-Herman were beginning to discuss consolidation, and we as a board decided to show interest and ask if we could send committee representation,” explained Preston. He outlined times that committees had met and public meetings that were had. In the spring of 2014 Lyons-Decatur received word of changing plans. “Tekamah-Herman informed us they had decided to move forward with trying to pass a bond issue of building a school on their own. Oakland-Craig informed us they were going to sit back for the time being,” Preston said.
Lyons-Decatur has since continued talking with Bancroft-Rosalie, entering into a junior high sports co-op. The board is currently deciding whether or not to enter a high school sports co-op with Bancroft-Rosalie, in addition to potentially sharing a few academic programs.
Discussion of the Future
Discussion among the board commenced over how they might proceed.
Preston commented, “I think it’s necessary to move forward with high school co-op, but I’m also reluctant to close doors in any direction.” He added of the co-op, “It would address many of the problems we currently have.”
Principal Derek Lahm commented, “The situation for our programs is pretty dire on the girls side. If we look at our 7th-10th grade girls that participate in volleyball, there’s a total of eight girls. In basketball there’s a total of six. My fear is we’re going to lose people in the district if we don’t have that girls program.”
Bruce Knaak added, “There will be no girls program if we don’t co-op. We could possibly go with the boys, but we can’t play (junior varsity) football. So some young kids, they might get in at the end of the game, but you throw in some small kids, they might get hurt.”
Board members discussed what they thought Bancroft-Rosalie desired to do, as well as what the Lyons-Decatur approach would be to the recent invitation for talks from Tekamah-Herman. Board member Jim Vlach said, “Walking away from the talks with Oakland-Craig and Tekamah-Herman would be a mistake.”
Board member Johnny Connealy suggested a new idea: “Have a Bancroft elementary, Oakland elementary, and Lyons high school - all three towns have a school.”
Board members discussed what actions to take next.
“I don’t want to jeopardize that co-op, because it’s our immediate need,” said board member Lisa Christiansen. “We can’t let that go away.”
As for meeting with Tekamah-Herman and Oakland-Craig, Preston said, “My feelings are that you should respond that we’re willing to meet and hear what they have to say.”
“I don’t have a problem with that,” commented board member Caryn Anderson, “But I’d also like to make sure we move forward with Bancroft.”
Offering Academic Programs
Principal Lahm noted that of a recent survey taken by students in grades 8-11, thirteen indicated that they would like to take the Industrial Technology class offered by Bancroft-Rosalie. They are still waiting to hear back from a survey of Bancroft-Rosalie students.
Lyons-Decatur and Bancroft-Rosalie committees were scheduled to meet Monday evening. Committee members include Trevor Preston, Caryn Anderson, Corey Petersen, and Jack Evans, along with Superintendent Fred Hansen. Lyons-Decatur athletic director Bruce Knaak and Bancroft-Rosalie athletic director Mike Sjuts were invited to participate in the meeting.
A meeting time for school board committees from Lyons-Decatur, Oakland-Craig, and Tekamah-Herman is currently being arranged by district superintendents.
The next regular school board meeting will take place on February 9th. The meeting time has been changed to 5:30 pm due to the East Husker Conference honor band being hosted at Lyons-Decatur with a 7:30 pm concert.