Rural Iowa Loses Another High School

May 30, 2017

Due to declining enrollment, Wednesday is the final day of classes in the 56-year history of the Charter Oak-Ute High School. In September, most COU 9th through 12th graders will be attending classes in the neighboring district of Maple Valley-Anthon Oto. 

The change is not a consolidation, but rather a sharing agreement between the two far western Iowa districts.

COU Superintendent Rollie Wiebers says 80 percent of the state funding his district receives per high school pupil will be sent to MVAO. COU will be financially responsible for its bussing students to the high school in Maple Valley, located about 20 minutes to the northwest. 

As a result of the declining enrollment, COU also receives less funding from the state. 

"Your numbers are just down so low that you just can’t offer a variety enough of programs to put them in situations that’s going to make them successful," he says. "When that looks like that trend is going to continue and that’s going to be what the future is, you got to make the difficult decision to shut down your high school and then move kids into a district where those opportunities are available for them."

Kindergarten through 8th grades will remain in the Charter Oak district. Until Wednesday all elementary, middle and high school students attend class in the same building, located on Charter Oak's Main Street.

Charter Oak-Ute formed in 1961 due to a consolidation between the districts in the neighboring cities of Ute and Charter Oak.