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Superintendent News & Views
October 8, 2017

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Ever since we learned the results of the September 12 dissolution referendum, I have been contemplating what to write in my first newspaper column after the election.

First of all, I appreciate everyone who participated in the election regardless of whether you voted yes or no.

This election yielded one of the highest voter turnout rates for any school election in recent Iowa history. Many times, when schools hold special elections for things such as a bond issue, a voter-approved PPEL, or other special circumstances - voter turnout is low and voters are uninformed. In some of these cases, I'm not sure if it can really be said that the election results represent the true will of the citizens. However, with the high voter turnout on September 12, I believe we can truly say that the results of this election represent the will of the vast majority of the citizens of the G-R district.

So, what's next for G-R? That's a question I've heard numerous times over the last few weeks. People want to know what our priorities are now that the people have spoken and it is apparent that the district will not be dissolved. The good news is that our priorities haven't changedthe only difference is that we can now focus on these priorities without the question of dissolution looming over us. So, what are your superintendent's priorities for the coming weeks, months, and years?

First and foremost, we need to continue our focus on providing the highest quality educational experiences possible for the students who have chosen to attend Gladbrook-Reinbeck. That's our number one mandate as a public school.

While I believe G-R does an incredible job educating kids and helping them to become well-rounded citizens, it's important that we not rest on our laurels. Just as G-R's amazing teachers, principals, coaches, and support staff have done for many years, we need to continue to be on the lookout for even better practices and programs that can help us to be even more effective in our work with students.

Secondly, we must remember that while our primary job is to serve the STUDENTS of this school district, we are also responsible to the taxpayers from ALL PARTS of the G-R district. We must remember that when we talk about the Gladbrook-Reinbeck community, we're not talking about the towns of Gladbrook or Reinbeck specifically. The community we're talking about is the entire school district as one single entity. It's our job to serve all students who live within those boundaries and choose to attend G-R.

When I talk about our responsibility to taxpayers, many people think I'm talking about keeping tax rates low. That's correct, but that's only one aspect of being responsible to the public. Another part of being responsible to the taxpayers in maintaining and protecting our investment district-owned facilities.

When residents of Morrison or Voorhies see the district investing money in facilities located in Gladbrook such as Crayon Corner, the former school building, and the athletic facilities in Gladbrook, they may wonder how they benefit from this. Conversely, people from Lincoln, Gladbrook, or the rural areas may ask how they benefit from our investment in the facilities located in Reinbeck.

Again, please remember that the district isn't here to serve any particular town, we're here to serve the entire school district as one single entity. Preventative maintenance and improvement of district-owned facilities will benefit ALL taxpayers in the end, as it will help us to preserve what we have and avoid more costly repairs in the future. Improved facilities also make the district a more attractive place for prospective students. Furthermore, EVERYONE benefits from having a well-trained workforce and well-rounded citizens living and working in their communities.

Additionally, we must continue our focus on the long-term financial health of the school district. Financially speaking, the school district is in a much better place than it was just a few years ago - and we are headed in the right direction when it comes to the district's ability to continue meeting the needs of students for many years to come. But again, this is not a place to rest on our laurels.

In all of our planning and decision-making, we must constantly balance our mandate to meet the needs of our current student body with our desire for G-R to be here for the long haul.

Finally, we need to continue to work together to ensure that G-R is the kind of school that will attract students...whether that be new students moving into our district, students from other districts opting to open-enroll to G-R, or returning students who had decided to attend other area schools that may be interested in coming back to G-R.

To those families that have decided to enroll their child in other school districts: We respect this decision, and we will continue to send the per-pupil funding to the district of your choice. However, I want you to know that any G-R resident student who is attending another district is ALWAYS welcome to come back and become a G-R Rebel at any time. Just give us a call and we can make arrangements for your child to start at G-R next school year, next semester...or even the next day! There is no deadline to meet and no paperwork required for returning to your resident district. Again, we will always respect your decision but please know that the door is open.

I'm hoping that my future columns can return to the types of topics that I normally write about...educational issues, parent involvement, student achievement, lifelong learning, state politics as it relates to education, and a focus on our district's unique programs and accomplishments. I'm also hoping to return to the pace of about one column per month! Thanks for your patience and attention over the past several months as my columns focused on dissolution-related topics.

Feel free to join the conversation as we work together to make G-R the best school it can be. You may leave comments on my blog at rebelsupt.blogspot.com and/or follow me on Twitter at @DavidRobertHill. Go Rebels!

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