Tuesday, May 11, 2004


Napoleon was thought to be unbeatable and all-powerful, but he was crushingly defeated at Waterloo, Belgium.

Well, the concept of school consolidation may not have a lot of famous paintings made about it like Napoleon did, but it does seem to be a very powerful idea, hard to resist in these budget-crunching times.

However, it met defeat yesterday, also in Waterloo. That’s Waterloo, Neb., of course.

The school board deadlocked 3-3 on a measure that would have led to a merger with the nearby Valley, Neb., schools. Waterloo’s enrollment is roughly 220, and Valley’s is more than 600.

The sticking point appeared to be the $1.2 million in debt that Valley has on its books. Some Waterloo taxpayers don’t want to have to pay it back. On the other hand, though, if Waterloo merges with a larger district some time after next May, it stands to obtain $500,000 in incentive funds from the State Department of Education, through LB 1091. It can’t get that money unless it merges.

Based on reports in the Douglas County Post-Gazette, another sticking point was the way the reorganization board was to be selected, which goofed up the November elections. This is because Paul Sellon, who works as superintendent of both the Waterloo and Valley districts, even though they’re not yet merged, wants the consolidated school board to be made up of members who are on those two boards now, instead of bringing new people into the mix.

That drew the ire of a number of citizens, including Robyn Terry, wife of U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, and a candidate for the Valley school board.

The whole thing’s a mess. Now Waterloo’s main option appears to be going back to the voters for a tax-levy override to make up for revenue shortfalls. But a similar measure failed this past March.

Ironically, guess who said this in 1803:

“A form of government that is not the result of a long sequence of shared experiences, efforts, and endeavors can never take root.”

You guessed it – Napoleon Bonaparte, the guy with the first Waterloo.

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