The Decorah Community School District Board of Education will receive a recommendation from the district’s Facility Committee at its regular meeting on July 8. The Facility Committee consists of community leaders who have met multiple times over several months to consider the future of the district’s elementary facilities, which currently include John Cline Elementary School and West Side Early Childhood Center.

Reviewing Decorah CSD’s facility needs at the early childhood and elementary level is a process that dates back to 2008. Past and current members of the Board of Education and administration have examined John Cline and West Side and discussed potential replacement options for both schools.

This process, spanning more than 15 years, has included engagement with residents about the district’s needs, multiple building assessments by architects and engineers, and the formation of committees tasked with exploring possible solutions. The district is currently partnered with Emergent Architecture as part of its ongoing planning effort.

Last fall, the district purchased from the City of Decorah land adjacent to John Cline Elementary on what has been referred to as the “Heivly Island.” This purchase also included the acquisition of the varsity softball field and a portion of the varsity baseball diamond, land which the school district has long occupied but did not own. 

“Many years have been invested by many people in the pursuit of providing our youngest students with the type of environment needed for 21st century learning,” said Superintendent Dr. Tim Cronin. “We want to thank everyone for their dedication to this shared mission, and we will continue to provide updates for the community as this process moves forward.”

West Side was constructed in 1939, and John Cline opened in 1964. Today, students and staff face numerous deficiencies, including outdated structural, mechanical, and electrical systems; aged HVAC systems lacking air conditioning and proper ventilation; a sewer system in need of replacement; playground drainage problems; and roofs in poor condition that require replacement. Additionally, building configurations hinder effective security measures, and there is a shortage of both classrooms and adequate space within existing classrooms.

In April, Decorah CSD hosted a survey and asked residents for input about the potential construction of a new school to replace John Cline and West Side. More than 76 percent of the 1,151 respondents said they would support the construction of a new school, while 15.4 percent said they would not support such a project. Another 8.1 percent said they were unsure.

An election on September 10, 2024, will ask voters to approve the renewal of the district’s Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) through 2051. The RPS specifies the uses for which income generated through the existing Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) fund can be utilized. Renewal requires 50 percent approval from voters.

If the school board accepts the recommendation of the Facility Committee, a second election would be held on November 5, asking voters to approve the issuance of general obligation bonds for the construction of a new elementary school. Bond issues need 60% approval by voters in order to pass.

Project updates and details will be released as available at

John Cline Elementary - Grades K-2

John Cline School