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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 157

In 1940, the shops programs at the technical school moved into a new building at 526 S. River
St., but the remainder of the programs stayed at the old high school. In 1960, a large, addition
to the South River Street building reunited all vocational-technical school programs in one
building (527 S. Franklin St.). In 1968, the State of Wisconsin organized the Janesville and
Beloit technical schools into one district that included large portions of Rock and Green
counties. Known as District No. 5, it is one of 17 districts supervised by the Wisconsin Board of
Vocational, Technical, and Adult Education. Reflecting these changes, the technical school
became the Blackhawk Vocational and Technical School. ("VTA School Has New Name"
RCHS files)
The merger of the two technical schools, an expansion of vocational-technical programs, and
increased enrollments caused the Blackhawk Vocational and Technical School Board to build a
new facility on the far south side of Janesville that would be convenient for students from many
areas. The new campus would also provide centralized facilities for programs that had become
scattered in many locations. A site on Prairie Road was acquired, and the new campus for the
Blackhawk Vocational and Technical School opened in September 1975. Shortly afterward,
the South Franklin Street campus was converted into the Janesville school system's Educational
Services Center. (Blackhawk Vocational and Technical Institute Bulletin, RCHS files)
Blackhawk Tech has continued to grow in the late twentieth century as vocational-technical
programs have expanded and the adult education component has grown. The school is currently
known as Blackhawk Technical College, reflecting its associate degree programs and college
level courses. It has an expansive campus at 6004 Prairie Rd. that serves the vocational-
technical educational needs of south-central Wisconsin. The early locations of the vocational-
technical school are no longer extant. The 1940 vocational shop building is still extant on South
River Street, but the large, modem addition along South Franklin Street overwhelms the older
building, making this location not potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic
Places. The campus on Prairie Road is not potentially eligible due to its recent date of
construction.
Rock County Normal School
Another post-high school program that existed for a time in Janesville was the Rock County
Rural Normal School. The school was founded in 1911 to train teachers for the many rural
schools in Rock County. During the era before school consolidation, rural education was
conducted in one- or two-room schoolhouses that dotted the rural countryside. One way to
provide the teachers for these schools was to train them at a normal school, usually a one- or
two-year program in place of or beyond high school. ("History of the Rock County Rural
Normal School")
The Rock County Normal School was housed in the old Jefferson School (Jefferson Park, not
extant), a building that had been constructed as the first Janesville High School. The normal
school occupied the third floor of the building, while the first two floors housed an elementary
school. During the first 10 years of its existence, the normal school program was offered to
high school graduates, who took a one-year course, and to non-graduates, who took a two-year
course. The potential teachers were trained in both a model classroom in the Jefferson School
building and in the rural schools themselves. ("History of the Rock County Rural Normal
School")
The Rock County Normal School graduated from 14 to 43 students each year; in its 22 years of
existence, it graduated a total of 585 teachers. In the early 1930s, the school declined. The
location of the normal school in the almost 100-year-old Jefferson School was not suitable to the
State Department of Public Instruction. Enrollments also declined due to the proximity of the
Education
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