Mid-Prairie grade reconfiguration closes* school

Over the past school year, the Mid-Prairie School District (Kalona, Wellman, and West Chester) was trying to figure out what to do with unbalanced class sizes in geography-based elementary attendance centers.

In April, the school board decided to divide by grades instead of geography. According to KCII Radio, Kalona will be kindergarten, first, and second grade; Wellman will be kindergarten, third, and fourth grade; fifth-graders will go to the middle school in Kalona (5-8); and the elementary buildings have been renamed.

Left out of the reconfiguration was Washington Township school, which is in southwest Johnson County on Angle Road at County Road F67. This is a rare 1960s-era rural school, although it’s not totally so; on the state map, it’s very near Joetown, which is the location of Iowa Mennonite School. Washington Township will be used for Mid-Prairie’s “Home School Assistance Program” but won’t have students anymore.

Washington Township might have been the last active school built for a township. It’s not the last one named for a township, because the district right next door is named for Highland Township in Washington County when Ainsworth and Riverside consolidated in 1963 and built a school between the towns in 1965. (Plus, the Dysart-Geneseo name lives on in the elementary in Dysart.)

(Half-hat tip: This Gazette article about increased enrollment in urban areas, which has a map at the bottom of “public schools opened and closed in 2017-18″. This is from state data, but the labels can be misleading. For example, Laurens-Marathon and Charter Oak-Ute are marked because they lost their high schools, but they still have elementary grades. And it goes by high school location, so the marker over Fairfield is for Libertyville Elementary.)

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