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      Gwinn area residents take matters into their own hands

      Correction: April 19, 2013 6:45 a.m.

      It was the decision of the Gwinn group that has concerns about the closing of Gilbert Elementary Thursday evening to provide the Gwinn Community School Board with a petition Friday, April 19, asking that they overturn their decision until which time factual information can be provided with numbers as to whether this is a more financially sound decision than any other options.

      Until they can show exactly what they are doing to balance the budget and have done so exploring many other options which include but are not limited to, closing Gilbert and moving to Sawyer, closing Sawyer and moving to Gilbert, keeping both schools open while we can, make changes for the high school to become a K-12 school, etc.

      The citizen group does NOT want to recall the board if they will provide the necessary information to the people to show that they can balance the budget.

      They feel a decision was made rapidly and without justification and that is what needs to be changed and that is all that is being requested of this board as of Friday morning. A recall of the board members has NOT begun.


      After last Monday's school board meeting, many Gwinn Area citizens say they were left bewildered and confused.

      The school board's decision to close Gilbert Elementary and have all children grades K through five attend Sawyer Elementary came at the close of the meeting.

      The school board said their intention with the decision is to start to dig themselves out of the $1.3 million deficit Gwinn Area Community Schools currently faces.

      "There needs to be a smaller group of people formulated from the community, and that means the community of Skandia, Little Lake, Sawyer, and Gwinn, to go and get the answers to the questions that these folks are asking to have answers to," said Dale Throenle, a Sawyer resident.

      Gwinn resident Leesa Misterly decided to organize a community meeting in order to encourage discussion about the decision. Emotions ran high during the meeting, and people had plenty to say.

      Residents discussed the school's financial situation and other options that the school board should still analyze and consider.

      "If you're concerned about your children, check out the schools that your child will go to before you send them to that school. That way, you're making an informed decision," said Throenle.

      "I think that in general, Gilbert was a very good school and didn't exactly deserve to be closed. But, either way, I think the kids are still going to get what they deserve, learning-wise," said Rileigh Erickson, an eighth grader at Gwinn Middle/High School.

      Before the end of the meeting, residents held a vote to decide if the community wanted a recall of the school board by this next Monday, for the board to reconsider their decision of closing Gilbert. Residents also added that if certain members of the board chose not to reconsider, they would ask for the board member's resignation.

      The vast majority voted yes and signed a petition.

      The petition will be circulating the community this weekend and will be submitted to the school board on Monday morning.