Early History

Wabaunsee County Schools

District 22 - Pavilion School

Pavilion School boys enjoy a game of marbles during recess. This photo, dated 1936 identifies the boys, left to right as Dan Glover, Dale Feyh, Dale Townsend and Bill Ekart.

Wabaunsee County’s first school district was created at the town of Wabaunsee in 1859 and by the end of the 19th century there were 88 districts in the county. Except for the “city schools”, all of the rural districts operated only one building and the vast majority had only one teacher in their employ.

The number of districts grew to 91 schools at their peak, but by the 1930s some rural districts were experiencing declining enrollment numbers. Statewide, there were almost 10,000 school districts, and the State of Kansas saw a need to implement statewide consolidation. It became evident, shortly after World War II that the one-room schools in Kansas would soon be a thing of the past.

District 24 - Snokomo School

District No. 24, the Snokomo School is one of two school buildings in Wabaunsee County currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In this view, circa 1920, the Woodman Hall is visible in the background.

In 1901 the first consolidation legislation was passed in Kansas that empowered the County Superintendent of Schools to close and merge any rural districts that had fewer than five students in their school. Many one room schools in Wabaunsee County began closing during the 1930s and the 1940s.  By 1950, nearly half of the county’s schools had closed and sold their buildings and property.

Then, in 1963 the first statewide school legislation was enacted. The plan called for county committees to draw district lines and the state set minimum district enrollment numbers. It was pursuant to that legislation that county’s Unified School Districts were created. Subsequently, all of the one-room schools in the county closed.

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