Rick Varney

Welcome to John Cline Elementary!

Rick Varney, Principal

John Cline Elementary serves students in transitional kindergarten through second grade in the Decorah Community School District and is home to approximately 315 students. In addition to strong core academic, social and emotional programs, our school offers support services in the areas of Title 1 Reading, Reading Recovery, Special Education, Extended Learning and English as a Second Language. We place strong emphasis on meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction and research-based practices.

We are a PBIS (Positive Behavior and Instruction Supports) School. We teach, model, and practice respectful, responsible, and safe behaviors that embody Viking Pride and character. We also believe that acknowledging and recognizing students when they demonstrate these core values will promote continued positive behavior.

John Cline has excellent teachers and support staff committed to using a collaborative approach to provide a safe and respectful learning environment that promotes and embraces growth for all learners. Our staff and students value the wonderful support of our families, the dedication of our volunteers, and the resources provided by our community. There are many opportunities to get involve at John Cline. We encourage you to speak with your child’s teacher, our office staff, or visit the Parent-Teacher Organization for more information on how you can partner in your children’s learning and growth. We are very proud to be a part of the Decorah Community School District!


Rick Varney is currently in his sixteenth year as a principal at John Cline Elementary School. Before coming to Decorah, Mr. Varney served as a principal for three years in the Central Community School District in Elkader, Iowa. Prior to becoming a principal, he was an elementary teacher in the Lamar Consolidated School District in Richmond, Texas; Bennet Community School District in Bennett, Iowa; and Tipton Community School District in Tipton, Iowa. He currently serves on the School Administrators of Iowa’s Executive Committee and also serves as the state representative for The National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Rick has earned degrees at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa and Western Illinois in Macomb, Illinois. He enjoys working and living in Decorah, where his three children graduated high school. He takes great pride in our community and is thankful for the opportunities he has here!