G-R officials ponder future of Gladbrook campus

Three Gladbrook-Reinbeck school buses and a van sit outside of the unoccupied campus in Gladbrook on Tuesday morning. Officials are currently discussing plans to either sell or partially demolish the facility, which was closed after the 2014-2015 school year. (Robert Maharry/The Grundy Register photo) 

Just months after a contentious dissolution vote that revealed deep divisions between residents in the Gladbrook-Reinbeck school district, Superintendent David Hill and the board of education are staring down another difficult question: what do we do with an unoccupied building?


“I don’t think anybody is happy with it because it didn’t really need to be this way, but now that it is, something positive has got to happen with that facility,” board member Doug Rowe of Gladbrook said. “The city and the school both want it to be as positive as it can possibly be.”


In recent blog posts and columns, Hill has articulated the need to move forward with a plan of action on the Gladbrook campus, which was closed after the 2014-2015 school year and has been a lightning rod for controversy since then. Upon taking the job in the summer of 2016, he immediately recognized a situation in need of attention. 


“Coming in from the outside, I was keenly aware that this was an issue. Any school district that owns a building that it’s not using ought to face it rather than bury their heads in the sand,” Hill said. “I believed it was my responsibility as a superintendent—not that I was trying to stir things up. We need to be responsible members of the community, and it needs to be dealt with.”


While he couldn’t provide a concrete figure on annual expenses, the chief administrator told The Grundy Register that the district is still insuring the building, mowing the grounds, moving snow and performing routine maintenance. The city of Gladbrook operates the swimming pool and fitness center, and both entities are hopeful that the arrangement will stay in place.


“It’s not tremendously expensive at this time, but 100 percent (of the money) is going into a building that’s not directly benefiting our students,” Hill said. “Eventually, there will be some big expense that comes up.”


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