- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

OAKLAND, Neb. (AP) - A $38.5 million bond measure will be presented to voters as part of a merger plan by two northeast Nebraska school districts.

School boards for the Oakland-Craig and Tekamah-Herman school districts voted Monday to put the measure on the Nov. 8 ballot, according to the Norfolk Daily News (https://bit.ly/2ahYfd0 ). The boards also approved a reorganization plan for state school authorities and authorized an option agreement to buy 80 acres of land for a high school that would be built half a mile north of Craig.

Attorney Jim Gessford, who’s been advising both districts, said Friday that the reorganization plan calls for dissolution of both districts and the creation of a new district. The plan was submitted to the State Committee for the Reorganization of School Districts on Thursday.

The plan is contingent on the bond election.

Each district will vote separately, Gessford said. If either or both fail to approve the bond measure, the merger plan dies. If both pass it, the state committee will determine whether to approve the reorganization, dissolve the districts and create a new one. The target date for the merger is Jan. 1.

The bond payments would be based on each district’s share of a merged district’s total valuation, with Tekamah-Herman’s share at 62 percent and Oakland-Craig at 38 percent.

Educational consultant Jerry McCall said the combined district would have about 1,000 students. The two districts haven’t been suffering from declining enrollment that’s led to the merger of several rural districts around the state, he said. The districts’ problems are their aging, inadequate science and career preparation facilities for their high school students.

That would be resolved by the new high school, McCall said.

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Information from: Norfolk Daily News, https://www.norfolkdailynews.com

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