Marne Simons Elementary School

Marne Simons Elementary School

(Hamburg) -- Hamburg school officials are not giving up on attempting to resurrect high school classes in the district.

Meeting in regular session Monday evening, the Hamburg School Board approved the request to approach the State Education Board in November for certification for high school curricula under a career academy format. If approved, classes would start in the 2020-2021 school year. Hamburg's first application in late March was rejected. Since then, Hamburg School Superintendent Dr. Mike Wells tells KMA News the district has prepared for a second attempt.

"Last year, we went to the state board," said Wells. "They gave us feedback about our plan. They encouraged us to come back if we could address those issues. We think we have a good plan ahead of us. We're looking at asking to go to the state board at their November meeting, and present our case, and ask for our high school to come back to Hamburg."

Wells says the career academy entails a mix of regular and nontraditional classes.

"We would teach reading, math, science," he said, "but, we would focus a lot on career and technical training. We have a building trades program, a welding program, a technology academy, a culinary academy. So, there would be at least those four. Nursing is another one we're looking at. We have to have schools that are willing to partner with us, and we'll be pursuing those others. We have to have agreements with Iowa Western in place before we go in November. So, we'll be meeting with them shortly to have those agreements in place, so that we can have a high school and move forward."

Wells is also superintendent of the Essex School District, which has been identified as a potential partner in the academy.

"Essex is an important part of the conversation," said Wells. "They're a small school, and we want to preserve all small schools in Iowa, and not let them die away. Our communities die when they die, and we don't want that. But, Essex plays an important part, because it's possible we could share a career academy. There is extra funding available for a career academy. So, if we start a career academy--whether part of the programs would be in Essex, or part of the programs would be in Hamburg--we would need to share them in order to afford them."

The superintendent says reviving high school classes is important to Hamburg in the post-flood recovery process.

"When you lose your high school, you lose a big part of your community," he said. "It's important for economic development. It's important for the pride of our community. Almost all of the industry in Fremont County is housed in Hamburg. So, we have a great tax base here. We have enough people--our town is over a thousand people, and you can certainly maintain a K-12 school system with that kind of population. And, as we look at building houses, progressing with our recovery from the flood, the high school is a big part of why people want to live here."

In the meantime, the Hamburg district continues to explore other programs. The board approved a plan to offer adult welding classes at Marne Simons Elementary School as part of the district's Public Education and Recreational Levy (PERL) approved back in 2017.