I pass through the small town of Laurel at least twice a week on our way to visit my wife's mother in Newton. I have watched as a building project at the school progresses. And more than once (actually nearly every time) as I pass by I ask myself , "How can this small community continue to have an active school?"
I found the answer in a copy of the Marshalltown Times-Republican dated November 18, 2014. Not all that long ago. In fact it was the decision of the East Marshall School Board in November, 2014, to keep all three campuses open and obviously ultimately - invest in an addition to the school at Laurel.
You can find it online and read how they had been given three choices to consider. Only one was to keep a school in Laurel and that was the one that was chosen. From the T-R article "Before his vote, Board President Terry Collins said he was once told when raising his daughter to not always think with his wallet. We're looking more with our wallets than we are with our heads and hearts as far as what is best for kids, Collins said of the other options not accepted."
The remainder of the article contains very familiar words to my ears, as well. Things like other options were more cost-effective or fiscally responsible. A district business manager saying that having only two campuses made the most fiscal sense. And even people predicting future student enrollment figures - especially open enrollment numbers.
I have found myself both proud and disappointed in the talk I have heard and read on social media regarding the continuing issue now facing the GR school district. It appears to me that many people believed that things would calm down and that dissolution would "go away." However, that belief has proven to be what many people would call foolish and perhaps even an arrogant thought.
There are good people who stand on both sides of the issue regarding dissolution. And there are some mighty stubborn ones, as well. But in the end it makes me sad. Because it seems to me that an "East Marshall" decision would have been so much better for everyone. Then when the unavoidable decision to merge with another district came later (and it will), everyone all communities -would accept the inevitable and be a united GR that I keep hearing about. And it would have prevented words and actions that now cannot be taken back.
But wait! I ask each of you reading this to stop and think for just a minute. Even more importantly I ask the GR School Board if it is possible for you to stop and think. I mean honestly and sincerely think about a change of heart rather than the wallet in this very life-changing issue for the district. Is it still possible for this board to look more with their hearts than with wallets? Drive through Laurel. It won't take very long. There isn't even a convenience store there anymore. I know there are folks that would say it is a dying community. If they have uttered the words about Gladbrook they most certainly would say it about that town, too. But I am sure it is a wonderful community of people who love their town and their school board members.
I know sometimes I have a very simplistic way of looking at things and solving problems. Faced with this problem, am I the only person who sees another vote by the GR School Board to reopen the Gladbrook campus as the most logical and wisest choice this board could ever make? I do know that there are members of that board that have that capacity.