Firelands History

The Firelands Local School District was officially formed in 1952 with the consolidation of the Brownhelm, Camden, Florence and Henrietta school districts. The organizational meeting of the new Firelands Local School District was held on January 7, 1952, at the Henrietta School. The total district enrollment was just under 1,000 students.

Formal action taken at that meeting included designating the Kipton Bank Co. as the local depository to the maximum amount of $40,000 and hiring E. J. May as Clerk of the district for one year at a salary of $1,200. Also approved was payment to the board members of $3 per meeting attended, not to exceed 12 meetings per year. The general fund budget for the district in 1952 was $161,938.65 and the starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree was $2,600.

On November 4, 1952, the residents of the newly formed district approved a 4.7257 mill bond issue to build a new fireproof high school. Bonds totaling $664,000 were issued in January 1953 and bids for the new building were approved on May 1, 1953. A formal dedication and open house of the new building was held on November 21, 1954. The first class to graduate from Firelands High School was the class of 1955, with 43 students.

A new middle school was completed in 1962 to house grades six, seven and eight. As the district continued to grow, additions were made to both the high school and middle school in 1971. This allowed grade five to be added to the middle school. At this time the student enrollment had grown to over 1,950.

Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, the student enrollment declined along with the conditions of the old elementary buildings, which had not seen any major renovation since the early 1930’s. By 1985 it was decided that the district needed to replace the three old elementary buildings and a 6.5 mill bond issue was placed on the November 5th ballot in hopes of building a new elementary. The issue failed along with two additional attempts in 1986.

The late 1980’s found many school districts in financial straits, including the neighboring district of South Amherst. After many failed levy attempts, the South Amherst Board of Education began discussing the possibility of merging with one of their neighboring districts. On December 14, 1987, the Firelands Board of Education approved a resolution of intent to accept the transfer of territory of the South Amherst Local School district into the Firelands Local School District.

A joint meeting of the two boards of education was held on January 13, 1988, at the Lorain County Joint Vocational School to discuss the proposed merger. A petition opposing the merger was circulated in the South Amherst district and the issue was placed on the ballot in March 1988. The ballot issue opposing the merger failed and the merger took place July 1, 1988.

A major reorganization then took place in the summer of 1988 allowing the district to close its three old elementary buildings, Brownhelm, Camden and Florence. Those buildings were then sold to their respective township trustees.

In December 1997, the board purchased 105 acres of land that lies to the north and east of the current high school and elementary. The land was purchased with the hopes of one day having a single campus for the district.

As the district enrollment was on the rise again in the 90’s, additions were built on the high school and elementary buildings. Recent external evaluations of our district facilities and a local community committee have recommended to the board of education that we consider new facility development.

What do the next 50 years have in store for the Firelands Local School District? Why not join us and find out!

Firelands Local Schools
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