Fort Calhoun Community Schools is located in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, a small community of 960 nestled on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River valley. It is an easy nine mile drive on Highway 75 south to Omaha or north to Blair. The rolling hills south, west, and north of the City are home to a multitude of acreages. The District is bound by the Missouri River on the east, Omaha Public Schools on the south, and the Blair School District on the north and west.
The District is rich in history and contains many significant historic sites: The Council Bluff, where Lewis and Clark had the first meeting with natives, the Otoe – Missouria tribe; Engineering Cantonment, the winter quarters for the Scientific part of the Missouri Expedition; Cantonment Missouri built by the military part of the Missouri expedition, which was flooded, so they moved the location and built Fort Atkinson the following year; and the Mormon Summer Quarter’s, to name a few of the earliest. With this drive to the West also came the belief in education and the need for schools. The first school in (what would be) Nebraska was located at Fort Atkinson; it passed when the Fort was abandoned in 1827, but the desire and the need returned with settlers in the 1850s. Private school was held in homes during the earliest days of the city, but a public day school was started as soon as 1856 and held in private homes, a rented hall, and possibly moved to the courthouse when the County Seat moved to DeSoto in 1858. A school “committee” was elected under the law of the (Nebraska) territory.
In 1863, the School Board went to the public for the first time requesting a tax levy to build a school building. That effort failed, but in May of 1865, a similar request was passed and the first school building was built on Washington Square. In 1890, the first building became too crowded and a small one room building was built east of the original building on Washington Square. In the fall of 1891, pupils were arranged according to classes, and a high school was added. Prior to this, students progressed at their own speed dependent upon which reader they were in. The first 10th grade class, which was the end of high school at the time, graduated in 1893.
By the late 1890s, the District had grown and a new building was clearly needed, but a new building was the subject of some opposition. One member of the School Board felt the issue was so important that he visited every property owner and parent of school age children to explain the need for the new building. His efforts were successful and a new two story building was constructed in 1899-1900; at this time, the School Board expanded to a six member board.
In 1904, 11th grade was added, so there was no graduating class.
In 1907, an addition was added to the east side of the building, providing two additional rooms.
In the Fall of 1920, 12th grade was added, so the group who graduated in the spring returned to school and graduated again from 12th grade.
In 1926, space became a problem again. Although the Board looked at expanding or replacing the main building, they ended up adding a small “beginner’s” building north of the main building.
In 1949 or 1950, Kindergarten was added.
In 1954, the combination auditorium and gymnasium was built, currently referred to as the Community Building.
In 1962, the “new” Elementary building was built at 11th and Monroe Streets diagonally across from the old school.
By 1970, the unsafe condition of the 1899-1900 building, plus increased enrollment and programming changes necessitated a new High School building. To make this possible, the District merged with Nashville, Green, and Plainview rural school districts to get a large enough tax base to support constructing a new building.
The building was completed by and opened in August of 1972, housing grades 5 through 12. The building was designed and built on the open classroom concept.
An addition to the Elementary building was completed in 1977 and the 5th and 6th grades were returned to the Elementary building. This addition was also designed and built on the open classroom concept.
Open concept classrooms proved to be less than successful, and partition walls were added to both buildings to create a somewhat functional space.
In the past, the District has used portables and satellite buildings to support increased enrollment and changes in programming. But due to safety and security issues, it has made the decision to move away from this when economically feasible.
In the 2010-11 school year, the District initiated the 1:1 iPad program at the High School, harnessing the power of technology to teach and prepare the youth of the District for the challenges of the 21st Century.
In 2011, the District completed a major renovation and addition to the Elementary building. A fire suppression sprinkler system was added to the entire building, and all of the restroom facilities were updated. The 1977 addition was redesigned into functional modern space eliminating all vestiges of the open classroom concept. The new addition was designed to allow natural light into all of the classrooms and provided the opportunity to reallocate space for the special programs needed to support the current teaching process. The main entrance was redesigned to address security issues and needed office space. Plus, the entire building was refreshed with new paint, carpet, interior doors, etc.
In addition, during this time, the Elementary parking site was also redesigned. Major safety issues were addressed by separating the student drop off from the bus drop off and adding a staff and visitor parking lot with a complete sidewalk system for the whole site.
In 2012, MCH Health Systems generously donated the old clinic building to the District, and the building was remodeled to house the Districts SPED 18 to 21 program and alternate school.