CLEARWATER - Three northeast Nebraska school districts may soon be consolidated, pending the results of a November bond election.

The school boards of Clearwater, Ewing, and Orchard are calling for a special bond election on November 12th to address needs regarding operational efficiency, enrollment limitations, and aging facilities. The bond issue will help facilitate a new 127,500 square foot school for Pre-K - 12th Grade, which will be centrally located between the three communities.

An informational meeting about the bond issue was held Sunday evening at Summerland Golf Course in Ewing, where attendees had the chance to hear more about the proposed project and raise any concerns they may have. 

"An informational presentation was put on where we went through some different things such as what the district would look like staffing-wise and the number of students there would be," Clearwater & Orchard Superintendent Dale Martin said. "We also had our financial person talk about how the taxes would look, and how the bond amount would affect individuals."

The construction project is estimated to cost $34.3 million, and the net tax levy increase with the bond would be about 4 cents more per $100 of taxable valuation in the Clearwater/Orchard area. Ewing's tax levy is expected to decrease by 5 cents if the new school is built.

Martin says now is the time for the school districts to consolidate for a couple of different reasons.

"Clearwater and Orchard are at the end of a unified agreement, and so the timing of that was part of it," Martin said. "You also have enrollment numbers, as we're getting down to single-digits in some classes."

"Clearwater, Orchard, and Ewing are already together in activities programs, the questions is, is the next logical step to get them all together in one school and make it more efficient as far as transportation and staffing," Martin said.

Additional informational meetings will be held in each of the three communities throughout October. The next meeting is set for this coming in Sunday with Ewing, followed by a meeting in Clearwater on October 16th, and a meeting in Orchard on October 20th.

Ballots will be mailed out to all registered voters in the three towns on or around October 21st, and all ballots must be returned to each communities resident election commissioner by 5 PM on November 12th.