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Schuyler school board extends Hoesing's contract

The Schuyler Community Schools Board of Education voted Thursday to extend the district's contract with Superintendent Dan Hoesing.

The two-year extension begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2019.

Under the contract, Hoesing, who has been with the district since July 2013, will see his annual salary increase from $160,000 to $166,000. His health insurance deductible also goes up, from $900 to $1,000.

“As we talked in the superintendent’s evaluation, Dr. Hoesing has our confidence and we are expressing that with this renewal of the contract, and we’re also confident that he will lead us through the continued changes and improvements that we need to make,” board member Brian Vavricek said.

The increased salary aligns with what superintendents from a dozen other similar-sized schools are paid, according to the board. Board member Chuck Misek said Hoesing’s salary is at the midway point of those figures.

“He’s well worth it,” Misek said.

Hoesing said he appreciates another contract and looks forward to continued progress for the district.

In other action, recently re-elected board members Virginia Semerad and Misek and newly elected member Mynor Hernandez took their oaths of office.

The board also voted to keep the same officers for 2017 as follows: Rich Brabec as president, Vavricek as vice president, Semerad as secretary and Misek as treasurer.

It was also announced that a board work session will be held 6 p.m. Jan. 31 to discuss the strategic planning process. The public meeting at Schuyler Central High School will include discussion on what priorities to focus on in 2017. Input sessions have already been held with district staff, parents and community members and leaders.

No decisions will be made by the board during the work session.

$1 million addition planned at SCHS

Six new classrooms and a music room are part of a planned addition at Schuyler Central High School to address overcrowding created by a growing student enrollment.

Schuyler Community Schools Superintendent Dan Hoesing said the expansion will provide much-needed space and eliminate the need for two portable buildings that are currently used for social studies classes.

“Whenever they put in portables, they call them temporary. With our student body, they aren’t temporary,” Hoesing said.

Enrollment at the high school has been steadily increasing. There are 540 students this school year, up from about 460 in 2015-16.

The expansion project, which has not been formally approved by the school board, would cost an estimated $1 million with that money coming from the district's building fund, according to Hoesing.

If approved, the district could bid the project as early as March, with construction starting in April and a completion date around Christmas.

A public meeting on the plan will be held 7 p.m. Feb. 6 in the high school’s east gym. Hoesing said he wants to hear from the public so any questions or concerns can be addressed.

In addition to providing more classroom space, Hoesing said the project would improve school safety.

Each time students go to the portable classrooms, the high school doors are unlocked. There are also times when students must re-enter the high school to retrieve material for class and have to wait for the doors to be unlocked again.

Each of the six classrooms would be about 800 square feet and the music room would be 2,483 square feet. A corridor would also be part of the addition extending south of the school's main entrance.

Additional parking would be available where the portable buildings are now.

Hoesing said he anticipates most of the construction work to be done during the summer months to reduce the amount of disruption to classes.

SED: Plan invested millions in Schuyler

Schuyler Economic Development’s Kem Cavanah has been pretty busy.

The economic development coordinator visited the local city council, school board, Rotary Club and board of public works last week to outline investments made in the community over the past decade.

His presentation, entitled "Schuyler's Momentum," is part of a pitch to renew and fund the local economic development plan.

The current economic development plan and half-cent sales tax that funds it were implemented Oct. 1, 2007, and are set to expire Sept. 30, 2021. Voters will soon be asked to extend the plan and local sales tax another seven years.

Cavanah's document — which can be downloaded at — identifies projects that were directly funded by Schuyler Economic Development and those that weren't, though Cavanah said the plan created an impetus for investment.

“The overall environment, the last 10 years of momentum, was not coincidental,” he said.

When Cavanah first made the rounds pitching the economic development plan in 2007, it wasn’t an easy sell.

“There was a lot of skepticism or uncertainty because this was something new to the community,” he said.

The fact that Schuyler Economic Development is funded by sales tax revenue was one source of unease. Since its approval, Cavanah said the organization has made its meetings and expenditures open to the public.

“The way to overcome fears and concerns is to be transparent,” he said.

Cavanah, with help from city department heads, organizations and businesses, calculated that in the past 10 years Schuyler has invested:

• $3.06 million in community development, including the expanded fire station, early childhood development and learning center and community garden.

• $14.93 million in infrastructure, including the Shell Creek levee, utilities and infrastructure at the Water Tower subdivisions and street projects.

• $2.18 million health care, including new equipment at CHI Health Schuyler and Cargill’s Marathon Clinic.

• $11.51 million in Schuyler Community Schools, including the new elementary school and SCS Field House.

• $2.82 million in philanthropy, including donations to the SCS Foundation, Schuyler Public Library Foundation and CHI Healthy Schuyler Foundation.

• $56.67 million in business and employers, including new buildings for Dollar General, Family Dollar and Casey’s and expansions or renovations at Cargill, Schuyler Coop, Frontier Coop and Nor-Am Cold Storage.

• $5.06 million in community recognition and grant awards.

• $2.5 million in downtown buildings, including the Homestead Center and eight other commercial buildings that were purchased and renovated.

• $8.06 million in new housing, including Kracl Meadows and a work force housing project.

In total, Cavanah calculated that $106.82 million has been invested in the community in a decade.

The vote on whether to extend the economic development plan and its funding source will be the first all-mail election in Schuyler. Ballots are expected to be sent out in late February and must be returned to the Colfax County Election Commissioner's Office by 5 p.m. March 14.

The plan and sales tax are contingent on each other, so one won't be enacted if the other doesn't pass.

The outcome of the election won't affect Cavanah personally; he is set to retire Sept. 30. The vote will determine if his successor will keep the balling rolling until 2021 or 2028.

City awards contract for Seventh Street project

Schuyler City Council awarded a $561,113 contract to Gehring Construction and Ready Mix Co. of Columbus for improvements along Seventh Street slated for this year.

The project will include paving, water main improvements and reconstructing the storm sewers and sanitary sewer along Seventh Street from C to F streets.

Four companies submitted bids for the project. Gehring’s was the lowest bid and one of two under the estimated cost of $600,000.

Also working in Gehring’s favor was the work the company did for the Water Tower Second Subdivision, which was endorsed by Schuyler Department of Utilities Superintendent Jim McGowan.

The project is scheduled to begin Aug. 1 with an expected completion date in early fall.

The city council also added a project to the one-year street plan that paves a gap along D Street from Eighth to Ninth streets.

A public hearing for the one- and six-year street plans is set for the Feb. 21 city council meeting.

Keno money allocated to honor flight, senior center

Schuyler City Council's financial committee is reassessing how to spend revenue generated by local keno gambling.

The committee met before last week's city council meeting to discuss whether to contribute to an honor flight for Nebraska Vietnam War veterans and a new door and wall for the Colfax County Senior Center.

City Clerk Lora Johnson said keno revenue from last quarter was down $3,000. It could be a fluke, but if that's part of a trend it could leave the city fund short $12,000 by year's end.

Last year, between projects at the swimming pool and Oak Ballroom, the city spent $50,000 in keno funds.

The veterans who will be part of the May 1 honor flight to Washington, D.C., haven't been selected yet, so it's unclear whether any Schuyler residents will participate.

Council member Alden Kment pointed out that while they don’t know if someone from Schuyler will go on this trip, three were part of last year's flight. Councilman David Johnson recommended they wait until they know if someone from Schuyler is going, then vote on whether to provide financial support.

“If the people of Schuyler benefit, I wouldn’t mind making a $100 donation,” said Council President Jon Knutson.

Since the city attorney recommended setting a limit around $400 for the donation, Kment decided it wasn't worth waiting.

“Why don’t we just donate $200 and be done with it?” he asked.

Other committee members agreed, voting to contribute $200 to the honor flight.

Tom Healy, manager of the Colfax County Senior Center, has asked for money to install a door and wall at that facility.

“Historically, we have helped the senior center,” said Knutson. “They do a lot for the community.”

But the committee was hesitant to award the full funding request because of concerns over the declining keno revenue.

Mayor Dave Reinecke called Healy during the meeting and learned the bid for the wall and door came to $900, with additional expenses for paint and other work.

The committee decided to donate $750, or half the requested amount, to the senior center.