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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history

8. Education,   pp. 147-164

Page 151

Hollow School, Hill Crest School, Howarth School, La Prairie School, River Valley School,
and Rock School. The Frances Willard, Howarth, and River Valley schools were closed
shortly after their acquisition. The others were used for a longer time, but eventually closed in
the 1970s and early 1980s. (Howe, 1976:1-2, Janesville School District Facilities Files)
Between 1959 and 1976, enrollment in all of Janesville's public schools rose from 6,475 to 13,467.
Some of this increase was due to the consolidation of rural schools into the district, but much of
it was due to the baby boom that occurred between 1946 and 1964. Responding to this increase,
the school board built five new elementary schools between 1965 and 1971. The first two schools
to open were the new Jackson School at 441 Burbank Ave. and the Madison School at 331 N.
Grant Ave., both ready for the 1965-1966 school year. Monroe School at 55 S. Pontiac Dr.
opened in 1967, Van Buren School at 1515 Lapham St. in 1969, and Harrison School at 760
Princeton Rd. in 1970. (Howe 1976:1; City Directories)
Along with these new facilities came new educational trends. New curriculum ideas flourished
in Janesville's elementary schools, some as a result of increased federal funding. Teaching
innovations included team teaching, cooperatively directed personal learning, integrated
social studies, and open classrooms. The open classroom idea was so popular in the late 1960s
that both Van Buren and Harrison schools were built as "pod" schools based on the open
classroom idea. Other curriculum changes came in math, language, and English programs.
Schools also increased their reliance on visual aids and new technology. (Howe 1976:2-10)
With these changes in curriculum and teaching methods came increased school administration
and reorganization of existing district services. The Janesville Board of Education remained
the governing body, but the school superintendent and district staff provided the board with
the leadership and information to make decisions. More office space was also needed for the
larger administrative staff. Between 1959 and 1971, the old Garfield School (not extant) was
used as an administration building. In 1975, the school district acquired the Blackhawk
Technical School building after the technical school moved to new quarters. This building,
located at 527 S. Franklin St., has been used as the Educational Service Center for the
Janesville school district since that time. (Howe 1976:22-23, Janesville School District
Facilities Files)
During the 1970s and 1980s, Janesville's elementary schools were no longer a "growth industry."
Enrollments declined by almost 2,000 students during these years as the baby boom went bust.
The two oldest elementary schools in the city, Garfield and Grant, were closed in 1958 and 1965,
and Garfield was demolished in 1971. Grant School, briefly reopened from 1969 to 1972, was
demolished in 1984. The small Jackson School had earlier been sold to the United Auto
Workers. The only pre-World War II elementary schools still in operation in Janesville were
the four schools built in the 1930s. The rural schools that had remained opened after school
consolidation in 1962 were also closed by 1981. Howarth School was closed in 1963, Blackhawk
School in 1976, La Prairie School in 1979, and Hill Crest, Happy Hollow, and Rock Schools all
closed in 1981 (Nickol 1981:6-12, Janesville School District Facilities Files)
After many years of educational experimentation, the late 1970s brought a "back to basics"
approach in the schools' teaching methods and curriculum. The school curriculum also reflected
new societal and technological trends. Calculators were introduced in math classes, English as
a Second Language was offered to non-English-speaking immigrants, and new strategies were
implemented to deal with student discipline and school vandalism. (Nickol 1981:19-36)
The 1980s was a decade of continually decreasing enrollment, but rising budgets, for the
Janesville school district. Enrollments between 1978 and 1987 dropped by 3,000 students, while
budgets rose $12 million. The most significant event in the administration of the public schools
occurred in 1982, when the school district finally became a unified district, removing fiscal

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