Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa

Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

December 28, 2017 Highland district moves on after Ainsworth decision
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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Back in February the Highland School Board approved the closure of the Ainsworth Elementary building after a contentious process. The issue wasn’t black and white, but the closure has been blamed for the district’s drop in open enrollment.

When the Highland School District then began planning for the integration of the of the two elementary schools: Riverside and Ainsworth, they did so by holding joint activities with the kids to get them acquainted before the school year. Highland interim Superintendent Mike Jorgensen said students have adapted well.

“The kids are handling things just fine,” Jorgensen said.

One of the concerns people had about consolidation was whether or not there would be enough space. While things have been a little more cramped, the arrangement actually improved communication between administration and the rest of the staff, Jorgensen said.

“I think one of the positives is that our administration is no longer split between two buildings,” He said. “[Principal Jane O’Leary] is able to be a lot more hands on and available to the staff.”

After the elementary closed, the public made it clear they wanted the building to end up in the city’s hands at public input sessions, a sentiment the administration said they agreed with.

Jorgensen said he’s been happy with the way the city and the school have worked together. The discussions, he said, have helped strengthen the relationship between the two. Ainsworth has a desire to turn the building into a library and possibly move City Hall into the building.

The sale of the building and the ballfields to the city were approved for $1 apiece in September. The clause also includes a 10-year period during which the school district would have the right to buy the building back if the city wanted to sell it. The deal should be finalized at any time.

Going forward, the school board has been talking about the possibility of moving fifth-grade students to the middle school, to give more space to the elementary and to help students transition from elementary to middle school.

It’s just one part of the ongoing discussion on possible changes to Highland School District facilities, including the possibility of having a green house for the school’s new agricultural program and a shed to store buses at the central site in the future.

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