(The original research to compile this history was completed by Mrs. Dorthy Predmore and Mr. Tyrol Noble)
The Land Ordinance of 1787 (16 years before Ohio became a state) provided for the orderly settlement of the Northwest Territory and established the importance of a commitment to education by stating: “Schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.” This goal was reinforced by setting aside section 16 in each township for the support of schools. Then in 1825, the Ohio Legislature passed an enabling law which allowed the County Commissioners to levy a ½ mill tax for the operation of public schools.
Johnsville School District
It was from these beginnings that schools in Johnsville and Iberia emerged. We do not have the exact dates for the first schools established in the Johnsville Area. We do know that Benjamin Green, an Old School Baptist Circuit rider, established what was called Salem Church on the banks of Shauck’s Creek in 1815. Church and school were both conducted in the building which was erected.
A school had been established in Johnsville before 1860. A second building was constructed on the land where the firehouse now stands. It was a one story brick structure called Union School, indicating that this may have been the first consolidation. A new two story frame building was erected before 1857.
Johnsville was designated a special two mile square district in 1885. This enabled them to build a high school. In May 1885 the school board submitted a $7,000 bond issued for building a new school. It was defeated 19 to 33. They submitted another $5,000 issue in June of 1886 which passed 39 – 33.
The board bought 3.5 acres of land from Peter Schell, which formed the nucleus around which the present grounds have been developed. On November 27, 1886 the 80 students of the school were moved into the new two story brick building. The first class of three members graduated on May 19, 1888. Johnsville became a three year high school in 1889 and a four year school in 1927.
Johnsville united with Perry Rural Schools including parts of Perry, Richland, Troy, North Bloomfield, Congress and Franklin Townships. Students from these districts were already attending Johnsville High School as tuition students. The voters of the district approved by a vote of 194-104, a $48,000 bond issue for additional building in November of 1927.
During the Depression, the board was having trouble paying teachers. They had borrowed from the State Teachers Retirement Service to meet payrolls. On July 27, 1934, the Federal Government paid all teachers in full for the 1933-34 school year up to August 1, 1934.
In 1930 the board closed West Miller and moved the pupils into Johnsville. In 1936 they closed Number 4 School and moved the pupils to South Miller. They also closed the Rinehart and Huntsman Schools which had been transferred from Richland County and transported the pupils to Johnsville. Woodview was closed in 1937 and South Miller in 1938, completing the consolidation of Perry Township Schools.
In the November 1938 election the voters approved a $22,000 bond issue which secured a WPA project for additional building. Rulings by the State Department of Education in early 1939 made it impossible for the Congress Township board to continue operating its schools. Under the direction of, or at least the approval of the county board and the State Department of Education, the Perry-Congress District was created. Neither the district nor the board was recognized by the Congress Board.
For the school year 1941-42 the Congress board hired four teachers and opened school. The Johnsville board hired three of these teachers and threatened to fire them unless they reported for work. It is important to note that none of them had applied for jobs at Johnsville!
In September 1941, a month after school had started, the two boards met with the county administration. The meeting was filled with unpleasant exchanges, but in the end the Congress Board agreed to the consolidation and to work as useful members of the new Perry-Congress District. The teachers were arbitrarily assigned to positions.
Consolidation was the issue in the November 1941 election. The issue carried by one vote. A new board member was elected. None were from the old board. There were three write-in candidates, two from the old board, but none were successful. On March 30, 1942 the new board asked Superintendent Bishop, who had led the consolidation fight, to hand in his resignation effective at the end of the school year. In June they changed the name of the district to Johnsville School, bringing to an end the short and stormy era of Perry-Congress Rural Schools. Visible scars of the struggle were being removed but many emotional and psychic scars would die only with the victims.
The bitterness of this struggle had taught the people of the Johnsville District much and when they faced necessary consolidation twenty years later, no one wanted to relive old experiences, and instead of opposing, were ready to cooperating in forming the new Northmor District.
Iberia School District
In Iberia the first school was established soon after the village was platted in 1832. The building doubled as a school on weekdays and as a United Presbyterian Church on Sundays. Although people wanted schools, they had conflict about accepting free education. Landowners, accustomed to hiring and paying their own schoolmaster, referred to the state supported districts as “pauper schools.” Rent paying residents were angered because the new law made “pauper scholars” of their children. The tradition of community involvement in education was established early and firmly.
As the population increased, one room schools were erected close enough together so that rural children could was to school. The first eight grades were free, but if the students wanted to go to high school, they had to find a private school, or pay tuition to a high school in a nearby town, and furnish their own transportation.
A new two story brick school building was built in Iberia in 1882, at a cost of $1,250. Within ten years the school was too small, so the space was doubled by and addition which cost about 1 ½ times as much as the original structure. Until 1903, graduates received three year certificates. During this time, the remainder of Washington Township was divided into six sub-districts, each with its own one room elementary school and its own board of education. The older students were allowed to come to the high school at Iberia, but were charged tuition of $1.40 per month.
When motorized school buses became available, the children from the sub-districts were brought to Iberia. A building known as the “Home” property, a part of the original Ohio Central College and the Working Home for the Blind had been damaged by fire in 1894. It was remodeled into a four room elementary school and put into use in 1917. The other school building then became the high school.
Bv the early 1930’s it was evident that a new building was needed to house all twelve grades. Although this was during the depths of the Depression, a bond issue for $60,000 was passed, and the new school was completed in late 1932. The Washington Township rural School, was “planned and constructed to provide complete facilities and recreation for the entire community” was dedicated on February 7, 1933. The old elementary and high school buildings were razed, and the land was leveled for playgrounds and lawns.
In 1938, the name was changed to Washington-Bloomfield Local School when the students of neighboring North Bloomfield Township were brought to Iberia. Most of the one room schools in the area were closed by this action.
By the mid 1950’s, as the post WWII baby boom began to affect the schools, an addition which almost doubled the size of the original building was constructed. It was first used in 1956. Shortly after that, the State Department of Education began pushing for the consolidation of small school districts in ohio. This ultimately led to the merging of the Iberia and Johnsville Schools into the Northmor Local School District.
The Northmor School District
The Northmor Local School District was founded in May, 1961 by action of the Morrow County Board of Education. The District was formed in response to a request by the Iberia and Johnsville Boards of Education to consolidate the two districts in the event of failure at the polls, or for any other reason, of a petition to transfer the Iberia School District to the Galion City School System.
The petition to transfer was filed because the State Department of Education served notice on April 24, 1961 that Iberia’s charter was in the process of being revoked because of violations of state standards. Because the Johnsville School District was comparable in size to Iberia, and was likely to face similar problems in the near future, a group which called itself “The Citizens Committee for Iberia-Johnsville Consolidation” was formed. Their purpose was to defeat the transfer petition, to retain local control of the schools, and to work for a consolidation which would enable the schools to meet state standards.
When the petition to transfer the Iberia District to Galion was defeated, the Morrow County Board of Education acted at once to consolidate the Iberia and Johnsville Districts. If there had been a group of citizens actively opposing that action, there could have been an initiative petition for a referendum, bringing the matter of consolidation to a direct vote of the people. However, the merging of the two districts was not formally opposed.
A temporary board of education was appointed, and organized as the Iberi-Johnsville Board of Education, the members were as follows: Clarence Tishcer, President; Aaron smith, Vice-President; and John Simmons, Gene Roesch and Ray Miller members. The board name, as well as the Citizen’s Committee name, listed the towns in alphabetical order. Meetings were held at Johnsville in odd numbered months, and at Iberia in even numbered months. A contest name the new district was publicized, and on September 23, 1961 the interim board chose Faith Creswell’s entry, “Northmor” because it identified the location of the consolidation in Northern Morrow County.
At that time, the board voted to request state aid to build a new consolidated high school. The consensus was that the existing buildings could be used to house grades K through eight, but that the high school should be in a separate new building.
The first elected board was chosen in November 1961, and took office in January 1962. Three members were elected to four year terms, and two members were elected for two year terms, so that the normal practice of choosing two or three members each biennium could be established. Persons serving on the first elected board were: Clarence Tischer, President; Charles Veil, Vice President; and Harold Hildebrand, Dorthy Predmore, and John Simmons, members.
Early in January the new board decided to ask the voters for a bond issue in order to buy land, build a new building, furnish the new building, and improve the existing buildings. In April, a 90-day option was taken on 43 acres of land in North Bloomfield Township. Section 33, at a point which was as nearly equidistant as possible from each existing school. The price was $150 per acre. After travelling to several areas around the state to see the work of various architects, the board chose the firm of Edwards and Burris of Marion to design the proposed building. The bond issue was approved on May 8, 1962.
The firm of Squires, Sanders and Dempsey from Cleveland was chosen to handle legal matters, and the bonds were issued on October 1, 1962. The Ohio Company of Columbus was high bidder, with $666,000 at an interest rate of 3.5% for 22 years, and a premium of $10,935.
Contracts for Northmor High School were awarded on October 16, 1962, with the general contract going to Crawford Construction of Galion. The new high school building was ready for occupancy at the beginning of the 1963-64 school year. A program from the dedication ceremony in October 1962 lists the following statistics:
Present Enrollment in grades 9-12: 326
Building capacity: 450
Twenty classes may be held at one time
47,000 square feet of building area is under roof
Dimension of building at the outer edges:
Width 286 feet Length 177 feet
Total cost per square foot: $10.84
Architects - Edwards & Burris, Marion Ohio
General Contract $334,942
Crawford Construction Co.
Plumbing and heating $117,715
Burks and Needles
Electrical $ 59,577
Total Construction Cost $511,577
Architects and Engineers $ 35,400
Loose Equipment $ 57,747
Fixed Equipment $ 51,659
Purchase of Site $ 6,000
Miscellaneous $ 18,305
Total Equipment and Cost $169,111
Grand Total $680,805
Means of Finance
School Bonds $666,000
Interest on invested money $ 14,138
National Defense Act $ 8,000
Morrow County Electric Co-op $ 2,000
The first graduating class at Northmor High School was the class of 1964. The Pioneer Joint Vocational School (later to be known as the Pioneer Career and Technology Center) was opened in Shelby in 1969. This school provided a wide range of course offerings and career based education for many Northmor students. In 1974 two out buildings were constructed at the high school. Originally these buildings housed the industrial arts program and a bus garage. Also in 1974 the stage, one additional classroom and a new locker-room were added to the high school building. The junior high school (grades 7-8) was moved to the high school building in 1989 through the “remodeling” of what had previously been the vocational agriculture classroom and lab space. In 1990 the Kokosing Construction Company donated many hours of labor and their equipment and drastically changed the landscape in the area south of the existing football field. This area had previously been a small “ravine” and swamp area. Due to the generous work of Kokosing and many Northmor community members this land was converted into a softball field and football practice area. In 1991 the new Wiseman Baseball Field was dedicated in appreciation for the many hours of devoted work that Steve and Bonnie Wiseman had given to the Northmor athletic programs and specifically to the construction of the baseball field. The work on the baseball field was also assisted through the donation of time and equipment from Tom Miller Excavating and Dick Ruhl. An activity center with public restrooms for (outdoor contests), locker-rooms, weight-room and multi-purpose room was opened in 1998. Modular classrooms were added to the Johnsville and Northmor High School/Junior High School buildings in 2001. The Northmor Athletic Boosters and the community assisted in the raising of funds for an eight lane all-weather track and this project was completed in the summer of 2002.
Further Consolidation and the New K-12 School Building
The Northmor community approved a bond issue to construct a new Kindergarten through Grade 12 school building in March of 2008. The cost of the new building was $32,000,000. The State of Ohio paid 63% ($18,000,000) of the total cost and the Northmor community paid 37% ($14,000,000). The total cost included construction, equipment, furniture, etc. Facts about the new K-12 Building
- The combined total square footage under roof is 174,000
- The building has 235,000 cement blocks
- The building has 85,725 bricks
- There are 101,000 square feet of bar joists
- There was 3,416 yards of concrete poured in the construction of the building
- 116,021 yards of dirt was moved to prepare for the construction
- There is 180,651 square feet of roofing on the building
- The building has 249 wells at 300 feet of depth, in a constant loop, to support the building’s geo thermal heating and cooling system
- The building has two courtyards constructed to the honor and memory of the Iberia and Johnsville Alumni as well as to the school buildings they attended.
- The K-12 building opened with a student and staff capacity of 1,380.
- Architects for the project was MKC Associates
- The Construction Management Firm was The Quandel Group, Inc.
- The General Contractor was Charles Construction
A dedication ceremony for the new building was held on Sunday August 21, 2011. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Dr. Boyd Epperson (Iberia Class of 1952) and the invocation was led by Reverend Ray Linn (Johnsville Class of 1953). The overflow audience enjoyed performances by the Northmor show choir Knightsounds and alumni and the Northmor High School Band and alumni. Superintendent Dr. Brent Winand introduced, among others, the members of the Northmor Board of Education (President Carlyle Smith, Vice President Dan Sipes, Tim Bachelder, Peggy Bosh and Jeff Whisler) as well as the district treasurer, Mrs. Tina Gabler. Special recognition was also given to Mr. Chuck Morris for his significant role in the construction project and to Mr. Ed Parrott Jr. who had served as the campaign committee chairman for the new building. The dedication speaker was Mr. Brian Burgett (Northmor Class of 1969), President and CEO of the Kokosing Construction Company. The ribbon cutting and acceptance of the new building was conducted by Mr. Carlyle Smith representing the Board of Education and Mr. Ed Parrott Jr. representing the community. Another special highlight of the dedication program was a letter from United States Senator Sherrod Brown congratulating and commending the Northmor community on their dedication and commitment to the students of the district.
The new K-12 building opened in September of 2011 and the first class to graduate from the new building was the Northmor High School Class of 2012.
In the spring of 2011, decommissioning ceremonies were held at the Iberia and Johnsville Schools. These events drew large crowds of people who came to say farewell to the buildings that had served the communities so well for many years. Many former community members, teachers, staff and administrators shared their fond memories of the long histories of these buildings. These events were bittersweet in that the end of the beloved buildings was fast approaching while the anticipation of the new building was emerging.
An important aspect of preparing to open the new school building was a massive moving project that was undertaken in the early summer of 2011. A professional moving company along with the custodians and others from the district filled three semi -trailers with equipment, teacher supplies and much more. All of these items needed to be stored for two months until the new building was ready. Yet another aspect of the summer of 2011 was the auctions that were held at the Northmor High School/Junior High school building and at the Iberia and Johnsville buildings. These three separate auctions were held in June and July of that busy summer. Again large crowds attended these auctions to reflect on and purchase memorabilia.
Finally, in the fall and early winter of 2011 the Johnsville and Iberia buildings were taken down. These were often sad days and or days for reflection for the many people who had been a part of the buildings’ history. The memories of the buildings themselves and the many special occasions and events the buildings hosted will remain in the minds of all whose lives were entwined with these schools.
The Iberia property became the possession of the Washington Township Trustees and the Johnsville property became the possession of the Johnsville Volunteer Fire Department. Each of these organizations will maintain the properties for the enjoyment and well -being of their home communities.