- Associated Press - Monday, November 9, 2015

REINBECK, Iowa (AP) - The Board of Education’s decision to close one of Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community Schools’ three schools has prompted a petition drive to dissolve the entire district.

The school, which served Gladbrook-area students in kindergarten through second grade, was closed in the spring after budget cuts. Students from that school were moved into Reinbeck Elementary and Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (http://bit.ly/1Nn6dvA ) reports citizens served the board with a petition and proposal in May calling for the district to dissolve and for its attendance area and property to be divided between neighboring districts. Since then, the board has appointed a seven-member commission to lead the process.

“Essentially, we need to formulate a proposal that we need to present to our school board,” said commission chairwoman Anne Boyer. Boyer was elected to the school board in September.

The board would be responsible for setting a referendum for residents to vote for or against the proposal. If the proposal is approved, the Gladbrook-Reinbeck school district will be divided between other districts as laid out in the plan.

The district had 466 students as of Oct. 1.

Deputy director of the Iowa Department of Education Jeff Berger says dissolution is very rare among Iowa school districts, and that the way the process has moved forward for Gladbrook-Reinbeck is “very uncommon.”

Berger said, “I’ve been here 18 years. I cannot recall another situation where it was driven by citizen petition.”

Boyer says she does not like how the dissolution process began in the district and finds it “devastating” to think about dissolving the district.

“It’s using a screwdriver to pound nails. There are more positive ways to move forward than this,” Boyer said.

The petition needs to be signed by at least 20 percent of the district’s registered voters for the school board to take action.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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