Let Us Introduce You To The West Burlington Independent School District

Mr. Walter E. Arnold
Mr. Walter E. Arnold

Located in Southeast Iowa, the Independent School District of West Burlington is unique in that it’s surrounded by another district, has no bus routes, and covers only 2 square miles. In 1931, Walter E. Arnold came to the West Burlington Schools to teach  7th and 8th grade English and science.  He became the superintendent in 1957 and in 1960, Mr. Arnold expanded the WB district from K-8 to K-12 against the wishes of the Department of Education.  The school hosted the first graduating class of 22 seniors in 1964.  After his death in 1971, the High School changed its name to West Burlington Arnold High School in honor of its founder.

The Beginning

The earliest record book on file at West Burlington school is for 1883-84. E.C. Littler’s list included names of 45 boys and 46 girls, including 35 who did not attend the entire fall and winter term.  The term ended February 22, 1884, and the spring term began a month later.  Students ranged from five to 16 years in age.

There have been a total of six buildings that could be called “West Burlington Schools”.   “Fairview” was the first, but was on the North side of Mt. Pleasant Road, and there-for, not in “corporate” town limits.   The next, also called “Fairview”, was on the corner of Wheeler and Ramsey, and was around as early as 1883 and was used until 1939 when A “Public Works Administration project” took place, and reconstructed a new building to the south of Fairview.

Students pose in front of “Fairview”, with their teacher.
Students pose in front of “Fairview”, with their teacher.
Fairview School
West Burlington Public School, “Fairview”, served the community until 1939

The following year, Littler’s records noted, there were 91 boys and 75 girls enrolled in the school. Average daily attendance was, according to the records, only 89.  The Educational Directory for 1905-06 tabbed school enrollment at 290.  H.N. Morgan was paid $675 for his first year as West Burlington Principal.  He had seven aides, paid an average of $40 a month.

Students pose in front of “Fairview”, with their teacher.

Students attending the West Burlington Public School, Fairview.

The “Old Middle School”

The school building commonly known as the “old middle school” was constructed as PWA (Public Works Administration) project in 1937-1939.  It contained 20,000 square feet of floor space and cost $67,916, serving as West Burlington’s only elementary school until 1956, when the present elementary building was constructed.

Old Middle School
The “old middle school” was constructed as a Public Works Administration Project, serving the district and community from 1939-2013
Students traditionally pose in front of the “Learning is Life” sign over the school’s front door
Students in front of Glass Block
Students are posing in front of the orginal glass block windows on the south side of the building, the Kindergarten classroom.
6th grade class in 1957
Mr. Walter Arnold (far right) posing with his 6th grade class in 1957. The next year he would become Superintendent.
In 1960-61, a bond issue of $164,000 was used to finance a shop addition and school remodeling. In 1963, there was a $63,500 addition to the junior high for a library, a music room and additional gym showers.