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Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • Hamburg schools could face $300K shortfall

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  • Distressing budget numbers shook Hamburg School Board members right out of the gate at Monday night’s meeting.  
    Superintendent Terry Kenealy passed out budget information to review during discussion of the consent agenda, and pointed out to the board that it looked like the unspent authorized budget for the end of June showed a shortfall of $299,948.17.  
    He advised that these numbers were unofficial until the auditors looked them over, but “best guess.”
    The four board members present were aghast at this news and in looking at the documents provided said they had no knowledge of a second page/additional column showing an ongoing total, remarking that it would have been valuable information throughout the year.  
    Board member Susan Harris asked the Farragut Board members present in the audience if they had known about or had access to this information in their school budget reports.  
    Farragut Board President Jenny Varrellas looked at the example shown and said that it had not shown up in their Farragut reports either.
    Kenealy assured the board that this tool would be used throughout the next fiscal year to try to avoid surprises.  
    After approving the consent agenda, the board reopened discussion about the invitation from the Farragut School Board to co-host a community meeting for both districts in Riverton about consolidation.  
    Kenealy said  it was vital to get as much information as possible out to the people when such high stakes decisions were being made.
    Kenealy also advised the board that he would attend the meeting on their behalf, as board members would prefer that Kenealy represent Hamburg’s school board and district.
    If the board members were to attend, they said, they would attend as citizens, not as board members.
    The board moved on to discussion of holding their own meeting, and a decision was made that the Hamburg School Board would also hold a community meeting on July 28 at 7 p.m.  
    Community members of both districts would be invited to attend and the meeting would be held in the Marnie Simons Elementary gymnasium.  
    Because of recent history, the board specified that they wanted to make sure that it was an official meeting, with an agenda and rules of order being followed by all.  
    Kenealy briefly discussed the petition numbers to date, saying that he believed that Farragut had 234 signatures and Hamburg had 165, and reminding the board that for the matter to be on the December 2 ballot, petitions would need to be done by Aug. 1.  
    Kenealy also passed out some answers he had prepared to some of the questions submitted by the public, and reviewed those answers briefly with the board.  
    Page 2 of 2 - The two main questions of interest were regarding differences between whole grade sharing and consolidation and which was best, and the likelihood of the School Budget Review Board (SBRC) forgiving the school’s negative unauthorized budget authority.  
    Kenealy was very clear with the board that a good plan had better be made prior to the December meeting with the SBRC, saying “I can guarantee you one thing; if you don’t go in to that meeting with a plan, they will look at dissolving the district as an option.”  
    In his written answers he also stressed that, “continuing on the same path of the previous years will not be accepted by the Department of Education and the School Budget Review Committee as evidence that the districts are serious about making the necessary changes.”
    Kenealy said he had also shared his prepared answers with Farragut’s superintendent as a reference point for discussion, and he would be meeting with Superintendent Hinrichs on Tuesday to further discuss the meeting.   
    In other action, the board:
    - Accepted the resignation of Pam Nebel as Board Secretary and the resignation of Chris Ward
    - Approved acceptance of a quote for 20 new HP chromebooks at a cost of $5,556 that would be paid for with REAP funds.  Those chromebooks would be used by staff members, with their previous chromebooks being rotated to student use.  
    -  Approved Ms. Linke as Guidance Counselor and Ms. Blank for the Transportation position.  

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