Facing criticism from veterans and their families, Millard school board members offered a compromise Thursday to resolve a controversy over a traveling war memorial.
Board members have agreed to personally pay to rent a Millard high school or middle school to book the "Remembering Our Fallen" exhibit on a weekend, board member Mike Kennedy said.
Renting the space would cost about $75 an hour, but it would avoid problems that might arise putting the exhibit in high schools during the school day, he said.
He called it a “win-win” solution.
Kennedy said he had yet to present the proposal to the exhibit's backers.
Bill Williams, co-creator and promoter of the exhibit, said Thursday he wanted to hear details of the compromise from district officials before accepting the offer.
“I'll listen to what they have to say,” Williams said.
Williams said he doubted a weekend booking would attract as many students as the typical weeklong booking in a school.
“I can't image that many students are going to make an effort on a weekend to drive over someplace and see it. Maybe.”
Principals at Millard West, South and North ignited the controversy last week when they declined to allow the exhibit into their schools, citing scheduling and logistical concerns, such as security and parking.
District administrators were also concerned that allowing the exhibit into a school might legally obligate the district to allow less tasteful exhibits in the future, a district spokeswoman said.
The decision not to book the exhibit prompted outrage and a letter-writing campaign from veterans and the families of lost military members.
The display features photographs of veterans from Nebraska and western Iowa who died in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Nebraska exhibit has traveled the state for 22 months. It is to visit 15 high schools this school year, including Westside, Burke and Bellevue East and West.
Kennedy said that by using private funds the district would not be legally obligated to allow someone else to bring an “unsavory” exhibit inside schools in the future.
He said all six board members agreed to use their own money to rent a Millard school lobby at a central district location, where it would be accessible to the community.
“Not just students, not just families, but any member of the community,” he said.
Kennedy said the board would work around Williams' schedule and try to book the exhibit in the next couple of months.
He said he received several dozen letters from people upset that the principals had turned down the exhibit. He said he was disappointed that people perceived the district as anti-military.
Kennedy said he has two uncles who served in the Marines, and his grandfather's brother died in the skies over Berlin.
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