Monroe Elementary School, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary today, will get more fanfare for that event than it did when it opened.
Monroe was Janesville’s 10th elementary school and was built at the height of the 1960s baby boom.
However, its opening was overshadowed by bigger changes in the city’s educational landscape.
Construction on Parker High School, also scheduled to open in 1967, had been delayed. To accommodate all of the students, Janesville High School (now Craig) had to run on a split shift. Those stories dominated the education news in The Janesville Gazette.
In addition, the cost to build Monroe—$984,728—was dwarfed by the cost of the new high school, which came in at more than $6 million.
So Monroe Elementary, which opened on time and with only minor glitches, received little press.
Traffic and an unexpectedly high number of students were the school’s only issues, according to stories from The Gazette’s archives. School district officials expected about 478 students on the first day of school, but 544 showed up instead.
Class sizes in the third, fourth and fifth grades hovered between 36 and 38 students. District officials told Gazette reporters that classroom sizes of fewer than 30 students were “more desirable.”
The problem was solved by transferring 32 students to other schools.
A story in the Sept. 6 edition of The Janesville Gazette noted the school’s opening was causing traffic jams in the area, and police were concerned about drivers, cyclists and pedestrians ignoring traffic signals and crosswalks.
The school also didn’t have enough bike racks to accommodate all of the students who rode their bikes to school.
Those concerns won’t be at play at Thursday’s celebration.
The public is invited to an open house from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the school grounds, 55 S. Pontiac Drive. It will feature an art exhibit, raffles, games, bounce houses and food trucks.
A choir concert will be performed after a short ceremony at 6:15 p.m.