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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

8. Education,   pp. 147-164


Page 152

control for the district from the City Council. Curriculum continued to change to meet the
changing expectations of modem education, and new programs were instituted to meet the needs
of an increasingly diverse student population. (Weaver 1987:1-14)
One of the most important changes during the last 20 years was the development of the middle
school concept. Because of overcrowding at the Janesville High School in the 1960s, the city's
junior high schools had retained ninth grades in their buildings. With the construction of a
second high school in 1967, ninth graders returned to the high schools. During the 1980s, the
district introduced the middle school concept that took sixth graders out of elementary schools
and placed them with seventh and eighth graders. As elementary school populations began to
rise again in the 1990s, this change, along with additions to existing schools, temporarily eased
elementary school overcrowding. At the present time, the problem of overcrowding in the
elementary schools is again being addressed.
Despite the long and rich educational history in the city of Janesville, only four large historic
elementary public schools are still extant: Adams, Roosevelt, Washington, and Wilson schools.
Although they have been altered and added to over the years, they are all still potentially
individually eligible for the National Register of Historic Places for their local significance in
the development of modem primary education in Janesville. Wilson School is already listed in
the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing property in the Old Fourth Ward
Historic District.
Still extant within the city limits are three former rural schools buildings that were
consolidated into the Janesville School District in 1962: Blackhawk School at 3103 Ruger Ave.,
River Valley School at 2300 Kellogg Ave., and Frances Willard School, located on the Rock
County Fairgrounds on Craig Avenue. The Blackhawk and River Valley schools are
potentially individually eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because they
represent rural education during the era prior to school consolidation.
The Frances Willard School was already listed in the National Register in 1977 not so much for
its association with rural schooling, although it is a fine example of a simple one-room rural
schoolhouse, but because of its association with Frances Willard, an important figure in
women's and social history. The Willard family came to Janesville in 1846, and in 1854,
Willard's father built a one-room schoolhouse for the education of Frances and her sister.
Frances Willard became a teacher and expanded her career into social activism, eventually
becoming president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union, a national organization that
lobbied for alcohol prohibition. The Willard School served rural children until it was
consolidated into the Janesville school system in 1962; it was closed in 1981. To preserve the
structure, it was moved to the Rock County Fairgrounds, listed in the National Register. It is
used today to educate the public about the one-room school era and Frances Willard. ("150
Years of Education in Janesville")
Education
152


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