Marshall County Rural Schools: A History (2023)

PHOTO ADDED - The old building of Le Grand Public School pictured sometime after its completion in 1871.

Editor's note: This is part one of the Times-Republican Education Corner series about some of the area's rural schools. The series will be devoted to the history and formation of schools, as well as the challenges they face in modern times.

It has been more than a century since the first white settlers arrived in present-day Marshall County. When they arrived, they were busy laying the most important foundations of modern cities: roads, houses, shops, churches and schools.

Since then, much has changed in education in the state. Three rural school districts in the county - West Marshall, East Marshall, and Green Mountain-Garwin - have unique histories. History also shows some common patterns across the different districts.

Past actions, contemporary influences

The districts of West Marshall, East Marshall and Green Mountain-Garwin each have their own history of origin. While unique in its own way, there are also clear patterns that emerge when it comes to timing small schools together.

Marshall County Rural Schools: A History (1)

PHOTO ADDED - People and horse-drawn carriages pose outside St. Anthony Consolidated School, which opened in 1913 and closed in 1957. The building has since been destroyed.

As the accounts in The Continuing History of Marshall County Iowa, 1997 suggest, residents of some communities who had lost students or entire school buildings to consolidation resisted amalgamation into larger districts.

“People from small towns like us… thought consolidation probably wouldn't be good for us because we would lose our school,” says Julie Lang, a 34-year-old teacher at Marshalltown Schools and a current substitute teacher at Groene Berg-Garwin . "As with anything, there are pros and cons."

Lang said he grew up in Van Cleve, east of Melbourne. This small town was eventually added to the Marshalltown School District and the local building closed.

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Lang said Van Cleve, like some communities in the West Marshall, East Marshall and GMG school districts, is not meeting the education and infrastructure needs the state requires for student success.

She said the first wave of consolidation in the late 19th and early 20th centuries came from rural schools merging. He said that in the 1940s and beyond, consolidation caused schools in smaller towns to outperform schools in larger towns such as State Center, Le Grand and, in his case, Marshalltown.

Gary Krob of the Iowa State Library State Data Center said the state's population experienced steady growth during these periods.

"In general, Iowa's population has always had slow and steady population growth," he said, noting that this was before the agricultural crisis of the 1980s.

He said international immigration from places like Germany and Ireland was key to population growth in the early and mid-20th century, as it is today. The arrival of the baby boomers also contributed to the state's population growth.

Krob said it can sometimes be difficult to look at historical population data because data collection methods used to be different than they are today.

western marshal

Today, the black and gold West Marshall Community School District includes the State Center, where all of its educational buildings are located, as well as Melbourne, Rhodes, St. Anthony, Clemons, and LaMoille.

According to Continuing History, the modern district was born in 1962 after elections that attempted to consolidate several independent territorial districts into West Marshall.

The first small schools appeared in the district in the 1860s in Rhodes and State Center. LaMoille followed in 1870. Then, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the first wave of school consolidation began.

Rhodes Consolidated Schools was founded in 1883 by bringing together students from different schools in the area. The same happened at the State Center in 1909 and in LaMoille and Melbourne around 1914-1915, according to Continuing History.

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This has been the case in western Marshall County for decades. A new wave of consolidation occurred in the post-war period. Minerva Consolidated School merged with State Center in 1945, and LaMoille followed in 1955. Rhodes and State Center merged in 1961, just prior to the final formation of West Marshall in 1962.

The creation of the current district did not immediately mean the end of local school buildings in other cities. As the years passed and new educational facilities were added to the State Center, other cities began to lose their school buildings.

The final blow came in 1979 with the closure of the Clemons School building and in 1983 with the closure of the Melbourne School.

According to Continuing History, some citizens of the smaller towns surrounding the State Center were unhappy with the consolidation.

"The residents of Rhodes strongly opposed the closure of the (local school) because they expected a negative impact on the town, but it did not work out," it says.

eastern marshal

On the other side of the county, the purple and gold East Marshall Mustangs came much later. This district currently serves the communities of Le Grand, Gilman, Laurel, Quarry, Dillon, Dunbar, and Ferguson.

According to "Continuing History", East Marshall was founded in 1992. Before that there were several waves of consolidation.

The first school in Le Grand was built in the mid-1850s. In 1871 it became clear that students needed more space, so a two-story brick school building was built in the northeast of the town.

The three-story building was built in 1916 to house more students, but burned down sometime in the next seven years. The replacement building was built and opened in 1924 and still serves as part of East Marshall High School.

As with West Marshall, some communities have lost schools due to consolidation. The Dillon School closed in 1955 and the nearby Rock Valley School existed from 1862 to 1954.

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Ferguson initially had a two-class school before consolidating with nearby schools in 1915. Ferguson's last class was in 1960, and then there was a school for third and fourth graders in Le Grand-Dunbar-Ferguson. (LDF) school district and later East Marshall. Ferguson's school was also closed in 2010.

Between 1922 and 1958 there was a consolidated school in Dunbar. The building continued to serve fourth through sixth grade students in the LDF District for some time before closing.

The cities of Laurel and Gilman continue to serve East Marshall Elementary and High School students, respectively. Laurel saw a new brick school built in 1920 and a new high school built in 1951.

A change occurred for Laurel in 1963 when it was merged with Gilman School and part of Jasper County's Mariposa Township to form the South East Marshall County District (SEMCO). This district was affiliated with the LDF for many years until the creation of East Marshall in 1992.

The first schoolhouse in Gilman survived from the 1870s to 1908, when it was destroyed by fire. The building was replaced the following year and has since been renovated. This is the current building of East Marshall High School.

Zielona Gora-Garwin

The GMG school district covers Eastern Marshall County and Western Tama County. Green Mountain, this small community northeast of Marshalltown, experienced many of the same pressures as other Marshall County towns in the 19th and 20th centuries.

According to Continuing History, prior to 1921, students in the Green Mountain area attended a one-room school just north of the school's current location.

In September of that year, voters voted to create the Green Mountain Independent School District. This decision followed two previous failed attempts to create a district.

In 1952, a major decision was made that allowed for the construction of a building for fourth through sixth grade students and a superintendent's office for $120,000.

According to Continuing History, the situation at the small-town school remained fairly stable over the following decades. Then, in 1992, the current Green Mountain-Garwin neighborhood was formed when schools in the two communities were merged "after much discussion."

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Today, Green Mountain is home to the district's elementary through sixth grade students, while Garwin is home to middle school and high school.

From one- and two-story schools on the plains in the early 1900s to multi-story school campuses today, Marshall County's rural schools have changed over time.

PHOTO ADDED: The old building of Le Grand Public School pictured some time after its completion in 1871.
PHOTO ADDED: People and horse-drawn carts pose outside St. Anthony Consolidated School, which opened in 1913 and closed in 1957. The building has since fallen into disrepair.

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What are the challenges facing rural schools? ›

Those challenges include high transportation costs, difficult teacher recruitment and retention, a large percentage of students in poverty, facilities funding gaps and a lack of professional development opportunities for staff.

What is a rural school? ›

Schools located significant distances away from urban centers that are often geographically isolated. Rural schools often serve large populations of poorer students. Rural schools are characterized by lower academic achievement than suburban schools, and many have high rates of student mobility.

How many rural schools are there in the US? ›

About one-third of the approximately 100,000 public schools in the United States in 2010–11 were located in rural areas (32,000), more than in suburbs (27,000), cities (26,000), or towns (14,000).

When did country schools close in Iowa? ›

Making new friends was hard because we were such a small school. So it was a big adjustment.” Narrator: When it was all said and done Iowa law required all public rural schools to close by June of 1966. Iowa's countryside was filled with the sounds of doors being padlocked and windows being boarded up.

What makes rural schools different? ›

Ultimately, the technical definition of a rural school corresponds to our general understanding of rural areas; they are characterized by geographic isolation and small population size. All schools are categorized into four locales by their size, population density and location.

What is an advantage of a rural school? ›

Rural schools generally have larger yards for the kids to run around, without the added effect of being surrounded by high traffic, or densely populated areas.

What are the disadvantages of going to a rural school? ›

  • Lack of Broadband Internet Service Providers. Those in urban communities can take broadband internet connectivity for granted. ...
  • The Struggle To Hire Teachers. There is a surplus of excellent instructors in many metropolitan areas, but there aren't enough jobs. ...
  • Long-Distance Traveling.
Jun 30, 2022

What percentage of kids attend rural schools? ›

Of an average nationwide enrollment of 3.75 million students per grade, approximately 715,000 (19 percent) attend “rural” schools; 540,000 (14 percent) attend “rural” districts; and 553,000 (15 percent) are in “rural” counties. Some students appear in multiple categories, and some do not.

How were rural schools different from urban schools? ›

Rural schools tend to receive less government funding than their urban counterparts. They also have to bus their students far distances within school districts. A lack of reliable internet access in personal homes and in schools can contribute further to rural education problems.

What is the most rural district in America? ›

The most rural place in the United States is Yukon-Koyukuk Census Area in Central Alaska. This swath of territory covers a whopping 145,505 square miles—about the same size as all of Montana.

What are the inequalities in rural education? ›

[Goldberg]: Both statistics and students describe three major factors that likely contribute to education inequality among rural students: financial barriers, inadequate educational infrastructure, and cultural differences.

Where is the smallest school in the US? ›

Bois Blanc Pines School District
Bois Blanc Township , Mackinac County, Michigan
District information
PresidentSuzette Cooley-Sanborn
11 more rows

What is the oldest public school in America? ›

The Boston Latin School, established in 1635, was the first school in what is now the United States. Although it has changed locations, the public school is still operating today. On April 23, 1635, the first public school in what would become the United States was established in Boston, Massachusetts.

What is the oldest school in the world that is still open? ›

Shishi High School in Chengdu, China has been open since 143 – 141 BCE, making it the oldest existing school in the world. The high school or secondary school is built on the site of the very first Chinese school founded during the Han dynasty, hence Shishi's 143 – 141 BCE founding date. What is this?

What is the oldest high school in America still open? ›

Oldest Public High Schools In The United States Still In Use
RankOldest Public High Schools In The U.S.A.Year Established
1Boston Latin, Boston, Massachusetts1635
2Hartford Public HS, Hartford, Connecticut1638
3Cambridge Rindge and Latin, Cambridge, Massachusetts1648
4Hopkins Academy, Hadley, Massachusetts1664
6 more rows

What are the 5 differences between rural? ›

The five differences between rural and urban areas are based on population size, development, division of labour, social mobility, and the type of environment. Cities are more advanced than villages and face various types of pollution as they are engaged in developed man-made surroundings.

Why are people in rural areas less educated? ›

The economic underdevelopment of rural America and its slow recovery caused the total population of rural counties to decrease as rural residents emigrated to suburban or urban areas between 2010 and 2012. This poverty contributes to lower educational attainment in rural schools.

What is a fringe rural school? ›

Rural schools are broken into these three categories: ​ Fringe: rural territory that is less than or equal to 5 miles from an urbanized area, as well as rural territory that is less than or equal to 2.5 miles from an urban cluster.

What are three disadvantages of living in rural areas? ›

There may be limited job opportunities, unless you already have a job nearby or if you commute into a town or city. Television and Internet connectivity could be weaker or patchy in more rural areas. During the winter months, nearby roads might not be in the best shape or not be as well maintained as urban roads.

Why is it better to live in a rural area? ›

A more relaxed pace of life

Not only are rural neighbourhoods quieter and more picturesque, but they're also known for being safer, with less crime, pollution, litter and traffic.

Do rural school closures lead to local population decline? ›

The ordinary DiD analysis shows a population decline of 7.6 percentage points during the 10-year post-closure period.

What are the challenges for rural school leaders in a developing context? ›

The data analysis points to an overwhelming percentage of school leaders feeling they face multifaceted problems in their work settings, including such challenges as untrained teachers, lack of funding, limited learning and teaching resources, and land disputes.

How does education affect rural areas? ›

Education is associated with higher earnings in both rural and urban areas. Median earnings for rural working adults with a high school diploma were $30,941 in 2019, which was $5,295 more than the median for rural working adults without a high school diploma or equivalent.

Do rural families have more children? ›

It is true that urban areas have lower fertility. The graph below shows age-specific birth rates by urban classification. Rural people have more babies and have them younger. People in city centers have fewer babies and have them later.

Do more students in the US attend rural schools than in the nation's 85 largest school districts combined? ›

More than 9.3 million students go to public schools in rural areas, more than the combined total of the nation's 85 largest school districts.

What percent of children in rural areas live in poverty? ›

About 13.4 million children under the age of 18 lived in the rural areas of the nation. Children in rural areas had lower rates of poverty (18.9 percent compared with 22.3 percent) but more of them were uninsured (7.3 percent compared with 6.3 percent).

Were city schools better off than rural schools during the Great Depression? ›

Schools in the big cities were better off than rural schools during the Great Depression, but they still had problems. Schools had less money, which meant fewer teachers, and teachers were paid less.

What were schools like in rural America during the Depression? ›

Children from several grades sat in one room, often led by a teacher not much older than the students. The dust and heat or snow and cold sometimes made it hard for children to learn and for teachers to teach. Teenagers sometimes had to quit school to work full time on the family farm.

What is the meaning of rural? ›

rural. adjective. ru·​ral ˈru̇r-əl. : of or relating to the country, country people or life, or agriculture.

Which state has lowest rural population? ›

Himachal Pradesh is the least urbanised state with 10.04% of the population urbanised.

What is the least inhabited state? ›

Wyoming is ranked the lowest in the population, with only 576,851 residents.

Which state has the highest percentage of rural? ›

Uttar Pradesh has the largest proportion of rural population in India.It has 155 million rural population.

Are rural areas less educated? ›

Additionally, 31 percent of adults in rural areas had completed at least some college or an associate's degree. This was higher than the corresponding percentages in suburban areas (28 percent) and cities (27 percent).

What makes education reform difficult poverty in rural America? ›

Onerous policies and inadequate access to resources, among other constraints, hamper improvement of rural education. Most federal and state education policies ignore rural America's many natural advantages and force rural school districts to operate in ways similar to those in urban centers.

How do you solve school inequality? ›

Stop the expansion of charter and private schools as it is not affordable for all students and creates segregation. Deprioritize test based funding because it discriminates against disadvantaged students. Support teachers financially, as in offering higher salaries and benefits for teachers to improve retention.

What is the poorest school in the United States? ›

In San Perlita, Texas, the poorest school district in the United States, the median annual household income is just $16,384, or less than a third of the national median income level.

What state is the lowest for education? ›

The Least Educated States
  • West Virginia is the least educated U.S. state, with an overall score of 23.15. ...
  • Mississippi has a score of 25.35. ...
  • Louisiana holds the third-place spot for the least educated states. ...
  • Arkansas's score is 31.00 out of 100. ...
  • Alabama is the country's fifth-least educated state.

What state has school the longest? ›

The state with the most required school days is Kansas for grades 1–11, and the states with the next most required school days are Illinois and North Carolina. On the other hand, the states with the fewest required school days are Colorado and Kentucky.

What is the longest running school in the United States? ›

Harvard University was established on Sept. 8, 1636, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was named after Puritan minister John Harvard, the first benefactor of the college. He donated half of his estate and his impressive library of more than 400 books to the school.

Who taught the first teacher? ›

No one knows for sure. Many people think Confucius was the first teacher. He was born in China in 551 B.C.E.

Who was the first teacher? ›

Have you ever wondered, “Who was the first teacher in the world?” It is believed that Confucius became the first teacher in the world. He was a private tutor who gave lessons on history.

What is the shortest school time in the world? ›

Typically, the Finnish school day starts anywhere from 9 to 9:45 a.m., and students typically spend only about five hours a day in the classroom. What's more, Finnish students typically have little to no homework. As for teachers?

What is the smallest school ever? ›

Deep Springs College
TypePrivate, two year
DeanRyan Derby-Talbot
Total staff30 (approximate)
Students26 (approximate)
LocationDeep Springs, California, U.S.37.3739°N 117.98°W
7 more rows

What is the most expensive school in the world? ›

The understatedness of the surroundings may come as a surprise since Rosenberg is routinely described as the most expensive school in the world. The average annual fee for students, who are all boarders, is 150,000 Swiss francs, or about £133,000 at current exchange rates.

What is the hardest high school in America? ›

The Most Challenging American High Schools
  1. International Academy*, Bloomfield Hills, Mich. ...
  2. Stanton College Prep*, Jacksonville, Fla. ...
  3. Paxon*, Jacksonville, Fla. ...
  4. Alabama School of Fine Arts, Birmingham. ...
  5. Jericho, N.Y. ...
  6. George Mason*, Falls Church, Va. ...
  7. Eastern Sierra Academy, Bridgeport, Calif. ...
  8. Myers Park*, Charlotte, N.C.

What is the longest running high school? ›

The list is ordered by date of creation, and currently includes schools formed before 1870.
  • Boston Latin School (1635), Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Hartford Public High School (1638), Hartford, Connecticut.
  • Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (1648), Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Hopkins Academy (1664), Hadley, Massachusetts.

Who is the oldest kid to graduate high school? ›

Ronald Gilroy. What is this? Ronald Gilroy received his high school diploma 73 years after he left school to join the Army during World War II. After the War, Gilroy stayed in the Army for another 10 years, got married, and raised seven children.

What is the biggest challenge for rural areas? ›

Overview of Specific Issues in a Rural Context
  • A disproportionate burden of chronic disease relative to the general public.
  • Restricted access to quality health care.
  • Insufficient or lack of health insurance coverage.
  • Geographic isolation.
  • Lack of public transportation.
  • Poor infrastructure.
  • Low educational attainment.

What are rural disadvantages to education? ›

What are the common challenges of education in rural areas?
  • Physical distance of students to school.
  • Difficulty finding teachers interested in relocating.
  • Poor internet connection.
  • Poverty.
  • Educators required to be entrepreneurial.
Jun 26, 2017

What are the advantages and disadvantages of rural areas? ›

Like cities, rural areas also have their advantages and disadvantages. They can be beautiful, relaxing places in which to live, but they also lack many of the cultural advantages and other amenities that cities feature. Rural areas are characterized by sparse populations and long distances that people must travel.

Why living in rural areas is more difficult than in urban areas? ›

Lack of Public Transportation: Small towns have limited access to public transportation. Some rural communities may not have any transit options whatsoever. Further, since rural areas tend to be spread out, they aren't very friendly to bicycles or pedestrians.

What are 2 disadvantages of living in a rural area? ›

There may be limited job opportunities, unless you already have a job nearby or if you commute into a town or city. Television and Internet connectivity could be weaker or patchy in more rural areas. During the winter months, nearby roads might not be in the best shape or not be as well maintained as urban roads.

What is the difference between urban and rural schools? ›

Rural schools tend to receive less government funding than their urban counterparts. They also have to bus their students far distances within school districts. A lack of reliable internet access in personal homes and in schools can contribute further to rural education problems.

What are the disadvantages of small schools? ›

Smaller schools often have less resources along with less staff, which might immediately make some subject offerings impossible. It can also mean that there simply aren't enough students to fill a class, so the subject doesn't go ahead.

What are the five challenges faced by local communities in accessing education? ›

The findings revealed that, ignorance, poor school leadership, poverty, political interference, poor beliefs and customs and lack of communication between the school and the community are the major challenges facing communities in participating in schools.

What is leadership in rural development? ›

Leadership in rural areas requires particular traits. It is an interesting social phenomenon. In villages, the degree of interaction between the leader and villagers is high. Various groups in villages determine the pattern of leadership in villages. Leadership in rural areas functions amidst of small groups.

What are the challenges in rural communication? ›

Challenges in Rural Communication
  • Media Reach is Limited. ...
  • Rural Audience is difficult to understand. ...
  • Heterogeneity and spread. ...
  • Deprived people and deprived markets. ...
  • Low levels of literacy: ...
  • Problems in sales force management.
Jan 13, 2017


1. Police find dead body in rural area of Marshall County
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(4-L Farm)
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5. History of Marshall
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6. Rural, Marshall County Fire
(iNewZ TV)


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