Letter to the Editor.
This is what I shared at the GR School Board Public Hearing on Wednesday, May 25, 2016.
GR School Board Members,
At the GR School Board meeting held on May 19, 2016, during discussion regarding a potential parking lot and driveway improvement project at the GR Elementary building in Reinbeck, three (3) separate GR School Board members stated, that night, that the current configuration was unsafe for students and that was why a project in the range of $150,000- $250,000 was needed to correct this issue. At the meeting, no one seemed to know what really was proposed to be done to address the unsafe driveway and parking lot configuration that was deteriorating. Final Plans and Specification were not available prior to the GR Board actual taking action to set tonight's Public Hearing, even though the publication in the paper, dated May 19, 2016 said plans and specifications were available at the business office for review. As I stated at your last meeting, this in not proper protocol. I would think the Administration and/or GR School Board members would know more about a project of this size. I would also think a representative from the engineering firm you hired would be present at the meeting to help explain the pending project since the project intent could not be explained or drawing shared with the GR School Board or audience. I don't necessarily expect GR School Board members to understand the details of a project like this but that is why you hire professionals to provide options and expertise.
I am also wondering, why over a year ago, when it was being discussed on which campus site, the Gladbrook or the Reinbeck site, would be a better for "kids", that the current unsafe situation was not brought up and part of the discussion prior to the decision by the GR School Board to close a building. One site needed an improvement in the $150,000-$250,000 and the other site did not. The "unsafe situation" has been the same for many, many years. If it is unsafe now, it was unsafe a year ago or 5 years ago. You can't have it both ways. So which is it? Why are we proceeding with an expensive project when there is a less expensive option to consider?
It was also said, at the numerous community meetings, that there was not an available space issue with the Reinbeck building even though it was pointed out that classroom space was much less than in the available Gladbrook building. At the May 19, 2016 School Board meeting, the board approved spending over $18,000 to renovate the ICN room so the administration office can be moved to the High School building to open up more space in the GR Elementary building in Reinbeck. So was there, or was there not a space issue that needed to be considered as part of the final selection of the GR Elementary building site. Again, you can't have it both ways.
Each of you, as individual elected GR School Board members, are accountable to the entire School District you represent.
As a gesture of being polite, you can see the attendance tonight is minimal. If the GR School Board is going to continue to not follow Iowa Code and protocol in doing the GR School District business, you can expect to see a significant increase in attendance at your meetings.
This current GR School Board has changed their minds on numerous topics from one board meeting to the next because adequate communication, discussion and research was not done.
I would suggest you postpone the pending driveway and parking lot project associated with the current GR Elementary building in Reinbeck until consistent thoughts can be put in to this decision.
Thank You for your time and consideration.
End of comments at the Public Hearing.
As a follow up to the meeting, after they had adjourned, I stated to GR School Board President Josh Hemann, that the GR School Board had just violated Iowa Code again by not actually approving the Plans, Specification, Form of contract and Cost Estimate following the, required by Iowa Code, Public Hearing. I further stated that if the administration and/or the School Board Members don't understand the Iowa Code and protocol, ask someone who does know.
At that point GR Board Vice-President Eric Sieh asked if I would help with that and I said I sure would, if asked. There are a lot of available resources to use, but you have to engage them. That brings up another topic regarding having past GR Board Members be used for advice and a sounding board. That offer was declined at the beginning of the discussion regarding possible closing a building over a year ago. More on that topic will follow.