Linn Co. R-1

Learning for today, preparing for tomorrow!

About Us

Linn County R-I is located in north-central Missouri, west of Macon, east of Chillicothe, north of Brookfield and south of Milan. The district is very rural, comprising 205 square miles in northern Linn county and southern Sullivan county. There are four towns in the district. The largest is Linneus, which is the county seat of Linn county. The other three towns, in descending size, are Browning, Purdin, and Shelby. The total population of the district is about 2000 people.

Each of the four towns at one time had its own K-12 school, equal in size to the present Linn R-I. Population shifts since 1900, and particularly since 1980, have significantly reduced populations. The population of the district has decreased over 50% since 1900 and 10% since 1980. The decreasing population and student base led to several reorganizations, with the latest reorganization occurring in 1966, which combined the final two schools into one district.

The Linn R-I district maintained an elementary school in Linneus and a high school in Browning for fifteen years after reorganization. In 1981, after years of working to find a place to build a new school, the Board of Education choose 40 acres close to the geographic center of the district, and the proposal was passed by the voters. At the time of construction, community leaders decided they wanted to also build an elementary school. Changing the construction material from brick to metal, collecting $30,000 in donations, and using almost all volunteer labor, all allowed the construction of an elementary addition. Over time, again using donations and volunteers as central resources, the district has built a track, baseball field, bus barn, concession stand/storage building, playground, and outside basketball area.

The district is primarily agricultural. A very high percentage of the families are involved in agriculture. For many, farming is a full-time family pursuit, for others, farming is a part-time occupation with one or both adults working full-time jobs elsewhere. Agricultural pursuits emphasize the raising of cattle or hogs, with what little grain that is produced generally used as feed. Considerable sections of land in the district are in the federal CRP set-aside program and not used for agricultural pursuits. This CRP program has increased absentee ownership of the land, since its value for investment purposes is thus increased and keeps land prices higher than they would be otherwise.

Linn County has one of the highest unemployment rate of any county in the state; it is also one of the poorest county in per capita income. Nearly 25% of the residents are retired, and another 25% school age. While the district population has decreased almost 10% in the last ten years, significant increases in numbers of single-parent families and families depending on social-welfare programs camouflage the even more significant decreases in employed households in the district. Many of the population changes are the result of poor families searching for inexpensive housing.

Presently the district has 280 students K-12. Probably 65% of the students have not attended any other school than Linn R-I. A significant part of the other 35% are students that have attended more than 5 different schools, and lived in a number of different towns or cities. Less than 1% of the students are members of a recognized minority. More than 58% are eligible for free and reduced lunch. The district has continued to lose students at a rate of over 3% per year for the last several years.

The district, with the exception of one year, has had a low drop-out rate, and thus very high completion rates. The community prizes high school graduation. Continuation of education after high school is relatively low, with only about 50% going on to either a two-year or four-year college, and less than 5% going to vocational school. The percentage of students starting a four-year college has decreased in conjunction with the increase of entrance requirements at Truman State University. As they have set higher ACT scores for entrance, it has removed the possibility of entrance for a number of students who, because of distance, do not have the opportunity to attend anywhere else. The reinvigoration of Trenton Junior College, now named North Central Missouri College, has given many students a new opportunity to attend a two-year college, and college entrance percentages have started to inch back up.

The district has emphasized a basic curriculum for many years. In grades K-12, the curriculum has emphasized the basics and strived to a hypothetical middle-ground. In part classes have tended to have a broad range of students. For example, instead of college prep English class and 12th grade English, "senior English" was offered; instead of calc and trig and consumer math, the district offered "senior math". More stringent demarcations of curriculum have come in the last few years, along with a greater emphasis on preparation for college. The district has also worked to provide a stronger life skills curriculum (tech prep). With these changes the district has seen increases in ACT scores, MMAT scores, as well as increased emphasis on a college prepatory studies certificate. Mr. Livingston, the principal, has been a strong leader in the development and organization of the curriculum in his two years here at Linn R-I.

An interesting aspect of the school system is the number of staff members who either graduated from this school district, a neighboring school district, or are married to someone who graduated from this school district. Nearly 75% of the staff are thus defined as a local. A number of staff members are related to each other by birth or marriage. These staff members, often coming here after successful experience elsewhere, have stayed. Even the staff members that are not originally from here tend to set roots and stay for a long time. There has been great stability among the staff. This is a real strength of the district. These staff members hold high expectations for learning, high expectations for behavior, and they are quick to involve parents, whom they know personally, if they feel there is a problem with a student. There is a strong sense that the community as well as the parents are raising the young people in this district. Staff members are very active in the school, each taking on the responsibility of one or more extra-curricular activities for little or no compensation. There is a high degree of collaboration among the staff, and a high degree of cooperation. New staff members are welcomed with open arms, and young teachers are given a lot of help. Teachers see directly that helping another teacher helps themselves, because they know they will have contact with that teacher's students in the future.

The parents have been very supportive of the school. There is a strong sense of volunteering for the school. The building and many of its facilities were built with community volunteer labor, not because of lack of money, but because of the spirit of the community. Patrons are active supporters of the elementary teachers and classroom activities, as well as the music program, the academic bowl, the athletic program, and the library. Attendance is high at all school events. Parents participate on a large number of committees, such as the Comprehensive School Improvement Committee, strategic planning committee, the vocational advisory committee, the curriculum committees, the counselor's advisory committee, as well as a number of other committees mandated by particular programs or grants.

Most of all, the patrons of the district have supported the schools by providing tax resources. The district has a voted tax levy of $4.50, not counting debt service. It has voted a tax levy higher than what the district needs, and consequently, the district voluntarily chooses to not collect over $.46 in taxes. The tax rate set this past summer (2004) was only $3.58. Even regarding debt service, the district has been decreasing what it asks for, because it has sufficient revenue to pay its obligations. The district still manages a carryover balance of over $600,000, over 25% of its budget. Some years past the district had one of the highest salary schedules in the area and one of the highest average teacher salaries. While salaries are still comparatively high, it is no longer the highest paid district in the area. Effort is being made to continue to raise the base salary so that the district can maintain a high commitment to teacher salaries, and continue to attract and keep excellent teachers. The Comprehensive School Improvement Committee considered this the number one priority and established it as the first goal.

The district has moved into a period of high enthusiasm for development and for change.  There has been a lot of interest in building a computer lab and expanding the district computer network to all classrooms. The summer library program has been expanded to include a parent/student reading program during the school year. The district started a vocational agriculture program. It has signed a collaboration document with North Central Missouri College to provide dual credit classes, and has expanded the curriculum offerings for college prep students to include foreign language, physics and upper level math. It is strengthening the district expectations of students in the life-prep classes. Computer instruction has increased in the elementary, and keyboarding in the junior high. Linn R-I has a strong health program in place K-12. Interest and enthusiasm in all programs is at an all-time high. We have joined the Grand River Instructional Television Network, and presently share instructional resources across a two-way interactive television network with four other small schools in North Missouri. Most exciting, we were notified in March of 1999 that we had been accepted into the A+ program.