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Downing High School ordered closed

From the files of the Glenwood City Tribune of April 13, 1944

An order issued under authority of Wisconsin Statutes by State Supt. John Callahan makes the closing of the Downing High School mandatory as of July 1, 1944.

Mr. Callahan’s order comes on the heels of the special meeting at which voters of Joint School District No. 7 voted to continue the school over the protests of a group of taxpayers who sought relief from their excessive school tax burden.

 Editors Note: Professor John Callahan served as principal in Glenwood City for eight years from 1890 to 1898, moving on to New Richmond and later becoming the State Superintendent of schools. In 1891 his salary as principal in Glenwood City was $95.00 per month.

The policy of closing school, where deemed best, has been a touchy one for the State Superintendent. In one area in the very northern part of the state he closed a school where the students were forced to ride by bus a distance of 12 miles to another bigger and better school. The children are reported receiving a better education and the taxpayers are getting more for their money. In some rural areas country schools have been closed and consolidation effected that have worked out for the best interests of all. It had been alleged in certain areas that politics played a part in the situation. That feeling has long been dispelled and the taxpayers are relieved of excessive school taxes.

In trying to work out the best solution to the Downing situation Mr. Callahan has no doubt given the matter consideration. His many years in his profession makes his decisions highly regarded by school boards.

The reason given in closing the Downing High School are four and are given in a letter to the clerk of that school district:

“1. High School boys and girls of your district as well as the present tuition pupils of your high school will be better served in nearby high schools that have richer curriculum offerings.

“2. The high school age group in your service area is much too small to permit your school to increase its enrollment to a point where it could offer a well balanced and appropriate cost per pupil.

“3. Discontinuing your high school will not seriously inconvenience the boys and girls who might attend your school. All will be within five miles of other operating high schools.

“4. With the levy and collections of a school tax above the legal maximum in 1943-1944 your district still had insufficient funds to keep its budget balanced. This is not surprising when one considers that your district has less than one-fifth the assessed valuation now required before a certificate of establishment. This tax rate, in excess of thirty mills, constitutes an unreasonable financial burden to the taxpayers of your district.”

The grade school will continue to operate. Students living in the Downing district may have free choice of neighboring schools, or those at a distance may be selected. The district will pay for the tuition.