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Education was important.

The first school in the area was established in 1832 on Mt. Vernon Street. A year later, Joseph Rountree taught in a small log structure located at a spot near Main Avenue and College Street.

Public schools were not established in the city until 1867. The classes met in rented facilities until a Central School was built in 1871 at Olive Street and Jefferson Avenue to house all grades.

Several ward school houses followed and the community's first building specifically for high school students was built at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Center (Central) Street in 1893. With several additions, Senior High School served as the district's only high school until 1954 and still serves students today. It is now a historic site.

Enrollment in the public schools was steady until the 1950's and 1960's when many new buildings were needed to handle an enrollment which peaked at close to 25,000. Half of the present school buildings were built in that period of time, with the last, Kickapoo High School, occupied in 1971. There are now five high schools, eight junior high schools, 43 elementary schools and a vocational-technical center.

By the end of 1979 work will be well along on a new elementary school in the southwest. Springfieldians have always been supportive of their schools with few defeated bond issues or levies on the record.

The first permanent building in the public school system was Central School built on the northwest corner of Olive Street and Jefferson Avenue in 1871.
The district's first Senior High School is shown here shortly after it was built in 1893 at Central Street and Jefferson Avenue. Longtime Superintendent of Schools Jonathan Fairbanks and the entire student body posed for the photo.
The look of school changed drastically in the 1980's. This is a drawing of James A. Jeffries School which opened in the southwest part of the district in 1980.
The curriculum and activities available in the public schools have changed greatly over the years as the needs of the community changed.
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