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Lanesville family protests schools’ interest in farm

When Supt. Phil Partenheimer asked Eugene Gleitz what it would take for Lanesville Community School Corp. to purchase the farm that had been in the Gleitz family for 118 years, Gleitz was certain of his answer. His farm wasn’t for sale.
After receiving a letter from Partenheimer, Gleitz became alarmed. He feared one way or another the school would take his property, which is located adjacent to school grounds.
The corporation’s intent ‘hit me like a sycamore,’ he said.
The emotion of Gleitz and his family appealed at the school board’s July 20 meeting. They pled with the board to look elsewhere as it considered expansion, and the board officially accepted Gleitz’s notice that his farm wasn’t for sale ‘at any price.’
The board and Dr. Partenheimer maintained that there had never been any mention of a condemnation suit to seize the land. In fact, it was only on the night Gleitz approached the board that Partenheimer was formally granted permission to pursue the purchase.
Before the floor was opened to Gleitz, his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Sharon, the board passed a motion 5-0 to allow Partenheimer to formally approach Gleitz concerning the farm.
‘It’s not something I relish doing. I was hired to take care of the students here, and I have to consider their best interests,’ the superintendent said.
Partenheimer’s recommendation that the property be pursued was not discussed by the board before being passed, which led the Gleitzes and Kenny Acton, a Lanesville resident, to protest.
And there were other criticisms.
For an hour and 45 minutes, audience members attacked everything from the corporation’s academic record and condition of facilities to its information-gathering and decision-making processes.
Acton said the corporation need to get its ‘house in order’ before eyeing expansion.
‘I’m interested in a bigger picture than leaky faucets,’ Partenheimer responded.
Sharon Gleitz claimed that academic quality at the school had declined in recent years.
Partenheimer said he took ‘difference’ with that statement, countering, ’83 percent of our kids went to college last year.’
Audience members also asked for facts supporting claims that the student population would outgrow the school’s capacity in the near future.
Partenheimer said full-day kindergarten would increase the number of kindergarten students and that enrollment showed growing numbers in the elementary school. He also said housing starts would contribute to growth.
The audience was not satisfied.
A number of subdivisions are in various stages in Franklin Township, including Sunrise Ridge, Cedar Pointe, Midway and others.
In the end, it seemed that an emotional appeal by the Gleitzes had the biggest impact on the discussion.
‘I don’t think that I can convey to anybody the mental anguish that this has caused me. I lay awake at night,’ Eugene Gleitz said.
‘I want you to feel what it is like. Not understand,’ Sharon said, as she was overcome by emotion.
When it was suggested that the board was blindly following Partenheimer’s lead, he responded, ‘They have integrity, honesty and compassion, and you are very lucky, whether I’m here or not, to have them.’
Board members said that they were limited in their responses and actions, and, where the Gleitz property was concerned, they were merely attempting to gauge interest.
Eugene Gleitz and other members of the audience said the board should no longer have any questions regarding his feelings on selling the property. That line of dialogue eventually led to the board formally accepting his refusal.