Jackson County high school faces big change - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Jackson County high school faces big change

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ANDREW (KWWL) -- Dwindling student numbers at Andrew High School have led to exploring whole grade sharing with two area schools.

Former Andrew Community School superintendent and current consultant to the School Board Kent Hammer said, if approved, Andrew students next year will have to choose between attending Bellevue or Maquoketa High Schools.

"We had to do something," Hammer said. "Less kids equals less money, and we made reductions over the years, and we were at a point where we were going to make reductions that was going to impact your kids' ability to function in the real world."

High school junior Garrett Grosskruger said he and his classmates aren't too happy about the prospect of switching high schools.

"Everybody's pretty upset about it, you know. They don't want Andrew to close because we all like it here," he said. "I'm not really nervous. I'm looking forward to meeting new people and everything, so, it'll be fine, I guess."

Students aren't the only ones who would have to leave.

"We're going to lose eight or nine people," Hammer said of the current teaching staff, "but if you don't have a high school, you don't need the teachers."

He added the district hopes some of the teachers could find a new home at the other schools, just like their students.

"You know, this hurts. I mean, it's a great little place," Hammer said. "I think Iowa, in the end, is going to look back and think, 'Maybe we shouldn't have let these little high schools go,' because they're just so valuable, but, financially, you just can't have 75 kids in a high school, you know?"

He said when he first assumed the position as Andrew superintendent in 2004, the school - kindergarten through 12th grade - had about 360 kids. Now, he said, the total is down to about 260, with 190 students in the elementary school and 70, total, in ninth through 12th grades.

The district stresses that board members and administrators are committed to keeping Andrew's K-8 school - and all of its programs - going strong.

Andrew High School's first graduating class was in 1889. The seniors of spring 2011 would be the 122nd - and final - graduating class.

Hammer said the Andrew School Board will vote to officially approve the whole grade sharing at their January 17 meeting. The Maquoketa and Bellevue school boards must also vote to approve it before February 1.

He said students must decide before April 1 which of the two schools they choose to attend, for those districts' planning purposes.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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