The Grant-Deuel School District is holding a series of meetings to gain public input and suggestions in its process of forming its dissolution plan. The first meeting took place Monday, February 29, at the commons area of the school. The district voted at its February school board meeting to begin the process to dissolve as a district because of declining enrollment.
Jon Wold, board president, explained three directions the district could take in the dissolution process. They could consolidate, simply dissolve, or dissolve and attach to another district. Wold explained that in today’s education structures, there is no incentive for consolidating with another school. If the district simply dissolves, the land within the school district would be divided up and disbursed three ways between the three neighboring school districts – Milbank, Deuel and Waverly-South Shore.
The choice the Grant-Deuel school board is leaning towards is dissolving and attaching to another district. “With this choice, we, the Grant-Deuel District, are in the driver’s seat,” stated Wold. “We would essentially be able to determine how to divide the land and make those decisions ourselves. We are leaning toward attaching to Milbank because of the success we have had with the sports consolidation.” Wold further explained that the working relationship between Milbank and Grant-Deuel has gone very well, has been an easy process, and the students have had a good experience.
A final decision has yet to be made and the informational meetings are taking place so district residents can have their voices heard. The biggest decisions are drawing up the lines to divide each district and the end result for the building itself.
Superintendent Al Stewart explained the process for the near future. “The school board will formulate a detailed plan of dissolution. That plan is then sent to the Department of Education for approval. The department can ask for changes to be made or add stipulations. Once the plan is finalized, the state department will set a date for residents of the school district to vote. The voting must take place within 90 days of the plan approval by the department.”
The plan and voting needs to be completed by April of 2017. “We would like to keep this process moving much quicker than that deadline,” Wold explained. “Working with the Department of Education takes time, so we want to make sure things get done well before that deadline.”
Questions and suggestions were given by several community members and landowners during the first meeting. Many voiced their desire to designate to which district their land and tax money goes. “This is going to be difficult for everyone,” said Wold. “Someone is not going to be happy no matter what we decide, but we are going to do the best job we can.”
Another major decision of interest is the fate of the school building itself. “I personally do not want to see this building sit empty or torn down,” state Wold. “Some district surplus money could be given to whatever entity goes into the building.” The district’s attorney, Rodney Freeman, is working with the school board on the legalities of what will happen to the building. “I believe only a governmental entity or a non-profit organization can go into the building, but we need to get further clarification on that as well,” Wold explained.
The board plans to get to work immediately following the series of public meetings. The second meeting was held Tuesday march 1. The next and final meeting for input and suggestions is scheduled for Monday, March 14, at 7 p.m. in the commons area of the school. All residents within the school district are strongly encouraged to attend and present their questions, concerns, and suggestions to the school board.