Voters in the IKM-Manning School District went to the polls Tuesday, September 8, 2020, and failed to approve a $19.2 million bond referendum that would have paid for an addition and upgrade, to create a K-12 center in Manning. Total votes from the combined counties amounted to 1,049-yes.
There were 859 No votes (55% in favor to 45% opposed). The bond measure required 60% approval plus 1, in order to pass.
Shelby County Auditor/Elections Commissioner Mark Maxwell reports the voters in Shelby & Audubon Counties defeated the measure by a vote of 367 - No to 114- Yes.
According to the latest information, unofficial results from Carroll County show voters approved the measure by a vote of 785-Yes to 71-No.
The unofficial results from Crawford County show the measure failed by a vote of 421-No to 150-Yes.

To build or not to build - in Manning
That is the question...

September 8, 2020 Special IKM-Manning School Bond Issue

The upcoming IKM-Manning school district bond issue, along with debates, disagreements, arguments, and even fiercely fought sides are nothing new.
I will concentrate on the history of schools in Manning and let the other communities in the IKM-Manning district make their cases and tell their history if they wish...

Before the town of Manning existed there was a country school located where the grocery store now stands.
Information from 1876 from the Warren Township record book (Warren No. 4 country school) states that in 1881, when the city of Manning was organizing, a city school would be established.
At first only students of high school age would attend the town school, and eighth grade and under would continue at the Warren No. 4 country school.
On November 11, 1881, classes for the Manning students were held at the home of Paul Winter...with Benjamin Salinger, hired at $37.00 per month, as teacher.

Benjamin I. Salinger

Since Warren No. 4 was in the city limits it was eventually closed in 1883.

Now realize that what we call Ewoldt Township today, was at that time called Warren Township.
A very unique situation occurred back then in that the city limits of Manning would remain as Warren Township, and the rest of the area outside of Manning would be Ewoldt Township…so Manning is in a township that is within another township.

On April 7, 1882, a city school board formed and they rented the Callison Hall on Main Street, to house all grades. Anyone in the at-large Warren Township area would be allowed to attend the city high school classes if they wished...NOTE: that the Callison Hall, a wooden structure back then, is now the location of Soll's Service brick building.

On July 17, 1882, a vote was held to have the town of Manning become an independent school district.

On November 25, 1882, the school board voted to purchase land for $240.00 in north Manning to construct a new wooden two-story school building.

New school building in 1883
On May 10, 1883, the board sought bids for construction of the new school, and on July 26, 1883, work began on the school house, where grades Kindergarten through Twelfth grade were held.

New addition in 1898
As the population grew in Manning, a bond issue was voted on April 14, 1898, to add an addition on the north side of the existing school - 52 for and 49 against.
It was awarded to Hugo Grundmeier for $2193.00 to build a 36x32 two-story addition on the north side of the school.

On March 18, 1907, a special election was held and bond issue passed to construct a new three-story brick building on the same location as the existing wooden building.

Classes for school students would be temporarily held in the Nick Schilling building on Main Street.

1907 brick school replaced the wooden structure.

The Manning community continues to grow and more space was needed for classes, so the Sacred Heart Church agreed to let the school use classrooms in the Catholic church.
The reason why I know this is when I scanned Alice (Lohmeier) Grau's school scrapbook, she wrote about her sixth grade classes being held in the Catholic Church...she graduated in 1924.

1969 Catholic Church

Even back in 1917, the community at large was struggling with how to combine the town and rural schools of the area and head into the future...

January 18, 1917 Manning Monitor

Manning for the present will not have Consolidated Schools. The country vote gave the proposition a black eye, there being 19 votes for and 81 against. In the town there were 114 votes for and 82 votes against.
Those arguing for the consolidation used the argument that not only the town but the country would have better schools and while it would cost more, they could point to a large number of consolidated schools in Iowa where the new conditions were so much better than the old that none would think of going back to the old conditions.
Those arguing against the proposition argued mostly from the question of taxes. Some country voters put up the argument that the country students should go to their own consolidated school to be built in the country. But the chances are even such a proposition would fail.
One thing is certain, the question of an education has been brought forcefully before all the citizens of this vicinity. It is one of the greatest questions before the public today, and one that should interest every man and woman who has the welfare of our country at heart. Consolidation of schools will come some day. It is but a step towards getting greater efficiency. Too much money is now spent for the value received. As this community grows richer more country boys and girls will come to the public schools in Manning, and something will take the place of the country school where less than a half dozen children gather to get the benefits of an education.
Better schools are needed in the country districts. As long as teachers teach who have provisional or third grade certificates, schools will be poor there. Some day school teaching may become a profession as it is in European countries, and then there will be better schools.

By 1917, the school became even more crowded, so on January 15, 1917, the school board issued bonds for $25,000 and not to exceed $35,000 to erect a new addition to the existing school, but it was decided to build a separate High School at the current location of today's Manning Rec Center...this school also included a small gymnasium and stage. Herb Hass and Thomas Reinhart of Manning were the general contractors.

1918 new high school

As it was becoming quite evident that Manning had a lot of excellent athletes, it was decided to build a new gymnasium and stage on the east side of the existing high school.
On August 13, 1936, a $20,000 bond was issued. A year earlier an application was awarded by the Public Works Administration (P.W.A.) to pay 45% of the cost.
A vote was held 390 for and 170 against. On November 5, 1936, the Holtz Construction Company out of Sioux City was awarded the bid for $32,000.00.
On October 18, 1937, the gym and auditorium were dedicated.

Using a gin pole to lift the huge steel girders into place.

Colorized photo by Thomas MacDonald-Williams for the 2009 Manning Schools History book project.

Dedication of new gymnasium and auditorium

Now the town continues to grow and after WWII, the "Baby Boom" generation began...
Then a major event developed. With shrinking numbers of rural families and the sizes of those families, country schools were now closing with the realization that all of the country schools will have to be closed sooner than later…there were 137 country schools in Carroll County in 1905 and by 1955, there were only 9.
In 1954, the battle between the various school districts in the Manning area began. Manning was in a unique setting, in that it borders four different counties.
In 1955, the Ar-We-VA and Manning School districts were battling over boundaries. Boundaries initially set were eventually reversed by Ar-We-Va, which returned several sections back to Manning.

Aspinwall, had an Independent School for Kindergarten through eighth grade, but sent its high school students to Manning.
During the country school reorganization period, Aspinwall was switched to the Manilla School district. Heated debates between the citizens of Aspinwall caused people to take sides…some wanted to continue with Manning and others wanted to go to Manilla.
As told to me by my 97 year old mother who was born/raised in Aspinwall, many families and neighbors stopped talking to each other because of the fierce debates over Manning or Manilla.

The rural areas between Manning and Manilla also became disputed.
One family, had a situation where the oldest child who had been going to Manning High School was allowed to finish at Manning, but the 2 younger siblings attended Manilla schools.

Then a battle ensued in Lincoln Township, Audubon County, where 15 families who were in the newly formed boundaries of Audubon School District, appealed the decision and on September 26, 1957, the Iowa State Department of Education ruled for the 15 families, so they could go to the Manning School District.

Even with the 2 school buildings in Manning, there was not enough space for all of the baby boomers.

July 19, 1956

At first various locations were used to house classes such as the Catholic Church again, and also the old Firemen's Hall.

Manning Schuetzen Verein Hall - later Firemen's Hall
Then even more space was needed so classes were held in the Plaza basement...Manning now truly had a "Manning Campus."

As crowding got worse, a new bond issue was voted on to build a new elementary and grade school building which would replace the old 1907 school building.
In 1963, the Ewoldt No. 5 country school was temporarily re-opened east of Manning for grade school classes until the new grade school construction was finished...there wasn't enough room in the old grade school in North Manning at that time.

In August 1961, the bond passed by 79% in favor (1297), and on August 30, 1962, a ground breaking ceremony was held.

Original plans for grade school.

August 30, 1962 Ground breaking

Oliver Himley, William Baley, Gib Peters, Dick Crandall, Merlin Struve, Ray Ehlers, Merlin Musfeldt, Elden Schroeder, Bob Leahey

Even though this new school building would provide a lot more space for classrooms, there would still be a problem with gymnasium space.

View from kitchen of the cafeteria

The school cafeteria in the new building could be used for PE, but what about Junior High practices...Well, leave it up to Manning ingenuity and cooperation - the school worked out an agreement with Zion Lutheran which had recently built a new church in south Manning. The church had a large fellowship hall with basketball court and shower rooms installed in the basement which could be used for junior high basketball practice.

1963 Zion - the gym area is where you see the upper level roofing.
The showers were in the basement on the north side of the east/west wing.

Well we are still in the Baby Boom generation, but attendance did stabilize.
Then in 1970 the INFAMOUS crack opened up on the west wall of the high school.
The rooms on all floors of the west end had to be abandoned.

Large crack on the inside of a classroom on the west wall.

Now what to do…So a group of active citizens and school board members started a campaign to build a new high school, but connected to the grade school.

On December 30, 1970, 71% of the 1316 who voted, approved of the $985,000.00 bond issue.

Architectural drawing

Then on August 27, 1973, the opening ceremony and flag-raising for the new school was held.

The old high school was torn down in 1975, but the gymnasium was saved. For several years the old gym was used for Junior High practices and games, and the Lutheran Church was no longer needed for practices.
Now something new was happening that had not been seen since 1881, the school was starting to see a downward trend of students. Eventually the school was able to work out the schedules to hold all school sports and practices in the new gym.
The school board then decided to sell the old gym to be used as a Rec Center which is now owned/operated by the City of Manning.

March 13, 1982

Now why go through the history of Manning Schools?
No one wants more taxes.

But ponder this thought:

What if the Manning community had NOT voted for the 1970 bond issue and just continued with the old high school and did some repairs on that west wall?
That 1918 high school would now be 102 years old with 50 more years of deterioration and aging...
The class of 1973 was the largest class MHS had with the next 10 years of similar size classes so crowded class rooms would have been a problem for a while.

Continued use of that old high school is assuming that the structure of the building would have remained stable and not eventually fail.

One thing that was discovered by John Ohde and myself is when that area was excavated for the swimming pool construction in 1988, there were significant amounts of glacial outwash in the subsoil, which is like a fine silica sand and does not make a good soil structure to support heavy brick buildings. This is why soil had to be dug out and removed so the footings for the pool would be on solid ground.
The other discovery we made was that the footings were only 3 feet deep for the two-story high school.

Arrow points to shallow footings of old high school

Footings for the swimming pool

So based on this information, it is highly doubtful the building would have had many more years of safe usage as it got into the 1980s.

Now would the Manning community have passed a school bond issue which would have been well into the millions of dollars by the 1980s or early 1990s?

Also by this time the dwindling enrollment would have really scared a lot of the voters of Manning, so based on this information my guess is we would have closed our school and started busing our kids to Carroll at least 30 years ago if the new high school had not been built.

Manilla, Irwin, and Kirkman would have still merged into IKM, but as we know 2009 is when IKM merged with Manning.
If like I theorized that Manning would have started busing to Carroll in the 1980s or early 1990s, what would the IKM school district have done in 2009?
2009 would be about 20 years later than when Manning would have already been busing to Carroll.
Now you would be talking in the range of 5 to 10 million dollars that the IKM school district would have had to spend if they would have tried to build a new building so they could to have everything in one location. I highly doubt the IKM school district would have voted for that.

So in 2009, more than likely, Manilla kids would have been bused to Denison, and Irwin/Kirkman kids to Harlan.

So maybe we should look at the current circumstances differently today, that since Manning voted 50 years ago to build the new high school, it gave some breathing room for the IKM-Manning school district to adjust from 2009 through 2020.

2021 would be a good time to build on to the existing school at Manning to prevent future busing to Carroll, Denison, and Harlan for the respective towns of Manning, Manilla, Irwin, and Kirkman.

I realize I have posed a lot of speculation and guessing with scenarios in the past, but the future is pretty certain - if we do nothing now or try to continue to hodge-podge our school district for several more years we will surely end up busing our kids much farther from each respective town in our district in the near future.

Here are several more images that show the transitions and proposals the Manning community saw...

Aerial view in 2008

Architectural proposal for the existing school along 141.
The existing old high school and gym can be seen in the background.

September 21, 1950 ad in the Manning Monitor

While this proposal failed, it shows the determination and foresight of the leaders of our past to never stop and keep looking toward the future!

Tearing down is all part of building up a community. Sometimes the old has to be razed to make progress for the future.
One reason why I'm able to show so much history and provide you with the corresponding information is my family and I have always been active in the community.
My dad loved to "recycle" old buildings, so in 1964 we spent a lot of time removing the flooring and other lumber from the old grade school.
Other people also removed lumber and fixtures. Back then, everyone tried to save things and not just burn/bury everything.

1964-65 demolition

If you look closely, you can see part of the old round spiral fire escape that was on the north side.

Sign in front of old high school

razing of old high school in 1975

1917-18 construction

April 17, 1964 daily flag raising.

View from Main Street

August 26, 1988

1960 view at old grade school

The Annex or study hall on the second floor of the old high school.

View of old grade school from Second Street.

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