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Southwest Iowa city without a high school since 2015, to open charter school in August

Posted at 7:25 PM, Mar 28, 2022

HAMBURG, Iowa. (KMTV) — In 2015, the city of Hamburg lost its high school.

Over the last three years, educators have been attempting to get the Iowa State Board of Education to let them reopen.

While the last two attempts were unsuccessful, the board approved a new charter school in the fall.

Eighth-grader Martin Rodriguez of Marnie Simons Elementary School learned a lot from the floods, including the importance of valuing a close-knit community.

"This school has definitely built on me as a person. I don't think some of the stuff I know, I wouldn't learn unless I was here," Rodriguez said.

Without a high school in the city, students like Rodriguez have to travel elsewhere like Shenandoah, Essex or Sidney.

"They've been in school with these kids their whole lives, most of them. So they went through nine years of school together and then all of a sudden, they're no longer with that group of kids. So it makes it really tough," said Jacqueline Barrett, the pre-K through 8th-grade principal at Hamburg Community School District.

Seeing students struggle without their usual support system is why the district persisted in opening a charter high school.

"All the industry of the county is in Hamburg. We have a hospital. We're a fairly large community. Not to have a high school limits our kids coming back. So we felt it was vital for the community to bring the high school back," Superintendent Dr. Mike Wells said.

Classrooms, a fitness center and an auditorium will be added to the physical structure. The school also plans to offer different educational tracks for students interested in a variety of careers.

"The kids will spend three days out in a career, for example, construction trades. Monday, Wednesday and Friday construction trades will be building houses in our community. And then they would only have two days in a traditional school setting. That kind of learning environment is better for our kids; they love being out," Wells said.

Silver linings are what Wells hopes to find.

"After the flood – a lot of people, you would imagine — would flee the community, and the opposite has actually happened," Wells said.

Students will get to make money while they're learning and the facility will be open all year. In the summer they'll get placed in apprenticeship programs. The plan is to get the school open in the fall.

Wells credits Gov. Kim Reynolds' expanded charter school legislation for why the school is finally opening.

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