GRATIOT—A petition is being circulated within the Black Hawk School District to encourage the school board to keep the Gratiot school building open.
Chuck Herbst, a newly appointed member to the Black Hawk School Board, has been active about saving the school in Gratiot and keeping it open.
“People will become aware of where the problems are,” Herbst said. “They will realize it’s not a problem with the building but with the salaries. The teacher-student ratio is out of whack and needs to be addressed. We can get to a balanced budget in other ways.”
Herbst said the petition asks the Black Hawk School Board to vacate the decision to close the Gratiot school and work together to come up with a better solution to balance the school’s budget.
Herbst said the board that founded the consolidated school district wanted there to be a school building in both South Wayne and Gratiot. By keeping the Gratiot school open, the district has two gymnasiums, two lunch rooms and more space for students.
“It also puts to rest the idea of building in South Wayne in the future, which is not a popular option,” Herbst said. “I hope we can work together to stay together.”
The idea for the petition started from a letter Herbst received from a resident in South Wayne.
“It helped to know that people in South Wayne felt the same way we did in Gratiot,” Herbst said. “The letter mentioned collecting signatures in a petition so I started handing them out.”
He said there are several people in the community who are circulating petitions. The one kept at the Gratiot Fast Stop has already collected approximately 200 signatures.
“I would have been happy with 200 signatures, but now that we’ve reached that I’ll be very pleased with 400,” Herbst said.
He plans to present the petition to the school board on May 14 at the regular school board meeting starting at 7 p.m. He said signatures can be collected until then and people are encouraged to attend the school board meetings to be heard. Herbst said there will probably be no action taken by the board on the petition at that meeting, but he hopes to work with the board on future action.
“There should have been a vote before this all came about [the closing of the school],” Herbst said. “To me, signing a petition is as good as voting.”