School board denies resolution allowing for annexation petitions out of GMR

Greenbush School site

Back at its March 18 meeting, the Greenbush-Middle River School Board denied a motion to draft a resolution to allow for approximately 376 Marshall County landowners and petitioners to detach their land out of the school district and into the Marshall County Central School District.

At the board’s April 15 meeting, Ross Nilson from Brudvik Law Office out of West Fargo, N.D.– representing these petitioners– presented a draft resolution to allow for now approximately 396 Marshall County landowners and petitioners to detach and annex. The Greenbush-Middle River denied passing this resolution by a 5-2 vote.

Board members Laurie Stromsodt and Joe Melby approved the motion and board members Kurt Stenberg, Carrie Jo Howard, Shane Kilen, Brandon Kuznia, and– not present at last month’s meeting– Allison Harder denied approving the motion. Following this decision, many people began to trickle out of the school cafeteria.

After presenting the resolution to the board, Nilson asked that the board vote on this resolution one way or the other, given the length of time this process has taken and out of fairness to these landowners.

Marshall County landowners filing petitions to detach out of the Greenbush-Middle River (GMR) School District and annex into the Marshall County Central (MCC) School District needed the approval of both these school districts and that of the Marshall County Board of Commissioners to move forward. The Marshall County Board of Commissioners public hearing in regards to these annexation requests scheduled back on April 9 at 6 pm in Warren did not take place.

What will happen next? Nilson explained what would happen if the board didn’t approve this resolution.

“Just be aware that if the board decides not to give consent tonight,” Nilson said, “that we are prepared to look into any and all legal remedies necessary for the group’s interest.”

At the February 19 board meeting, one of the petitioners, David Thompson, said– based on what he had heard from fellow petitioners– what would likely happen if the district didn’t approve these annexation petitions– a lawsuit.

Asked by fellow board member Stromsodt, Chairperson Shane Kilen said that the Minnesota School Board Association recommended that the board not approve these annexation petitions. Stromsodt asked under what reason and Kilen said, “the break up of the district.”

Board member Joe Melby then asked, “Did you tell them the district is already broken up?”

Kilen responded, “No, it’s not already broken up.”

After seconding Stromsodt’s motion to approve this resolution, Melby asked for board members’ arguments against it.

“We’ve already split up the district,” Melby said. “Why not let people go their separate way and be done with it? Why keep fighting it?”

Kilen pointed to reasons against it that were stated last month, including revenue loss and the precedent that would be set by moving forward with it.

Before the board made a decision to deny the annexation motion, Melby said, “The board has already begun this process. I don’t know why you don’t want to finish it.”

To see the full story, read the April 17 issue of The Tribune in print or online.

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