REINBECK — Gladbrook-Reinbeck Community Schools’ officials are spreading the word that a recent mailing encouraging residents to vote for dissolution of the district was not sent by them.
In the meantime, a gathering was held Monday night in support of the school district and against the dissolution proposal, which is on today’s election ballot. The prayer vigil and support rally was held at 8:30 p.m. in front of Gladbrook-Reinbeck Junior/Senior High School.
If approved, the proposal would dissolve Gladbrook-Reinbeck Schools, dividing it between many of the surrounding school districts. A “no” vote would keep the school district intact. Polls in the district will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. today.
The focus of the rally and vigil was listening to students and “praying for guidance, compassion, forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope,” said organizer Michele Knaack. “Our hope is that all persons, regardless of their political views, will feel welcome and all will be embraced as neighbors.”
Calling the event “the most important Rebel Pep Rally,” she expressed hope people will demonstrate grace in accepting the vote’s outcome and understanding those with a differing opinions.
Many voters received an unsigned letter in the mail Saturday encouraging them to vote “yes” on the dissolution proposal, according to a news release from the district. The letters were sent via U.S. Postal Service with a return address label that only said “Gladbrook Reinbeck School Election.” Officials said this return address has led some in the community to believe the mailing was sent by the district.
“I want to make it perfectly clear that if voters have received something in the mail, it did not come from the school district,” David Hill, the district’s superintendent, said in the news release. “The school board has taken the position that a ‘no’ vote is appropriate, but the district is not conducting a mailing campaign or using public resources to promote this position.”
Hill said Monday he has confirmed the mailing came from a group supporting dissolution of the school district. The letter also disputes some of the information the superintendent has shared over the past several months in his local newspaper columns. Hill is standing by those statements, and he encourages citizens to contact his office if there are questions or misunderstandings.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Board of Education passed a resolution in June confirming its unanimous opposition to the dissolution. Reasons listed include the elimination of nearly 100 teaching and support staff jobs, the likely closing of additional school buildings and the loss of high-quality programs and services offered by the district. The district’s continued record of outstanding academic, athletic and fine arts accomplishments while maintaining one of the lowest school property tax rates in the region also is cited as a reason to maintain the school.