Cardinal was but a dream of the delegation which went to Des Moines in December 1955 to discuss with the State Department of Public Instruction the possibility of a merger of several districts into one large area.
In January 1956, this group of forward-looking men united with many others to meet in Bladensburg to lay the foundations of this new educational plan. A steering committee was organized to complete the study of this proposed reorganization. Clifford Moore was first named temporary (and later permanent) chairman of this committee. The aim of the committee was to find a method of giving the best possible education to the most practical number of students at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayers.
Petitions were circulated during the late months of that year and the final decision was to be made at the polls on February 14, 1957. This proposal involved twenty-three school districts in four counties; three of which were high school districts. Despite the failure of this vote to carry, after further study and door-to-door canvass of the area, the steering committee dropped four small districts and circulated new petitions in the remaining area. The second vote was scheduled for May 7, 1957.
This vote passed by an overwhelming majority. Immediate plans were made for the election of a new school board to take office in July. A gentlemen’s agreement was set up which allowed an individual to serve from each of the three high school districts with the other two to come from the rural area. This area was divided into a southern portion and a northern portion.
The board which took office that July included Floyd Harmon from Eldon, Lowell Giltner from the northern part of the rural area, Clifford Moore from the southern part of the rural area, Lloyd Whitham from the Agency area and Max Willhoit from the Batavia area. Willhoit was named president of the board at their organizational meting.
After careful screening of a large number of applicants, the board selected an individual who they felt most nearly fitted the needs of the new school district to serve as superintendent. Robert F. Leland, Superintendent of Schools at Paton, was offered the position and accepted it. He began his duties in August and was faced immediately with the problems that all newly reorganized areas are faced with--such as operating one large district from several small budgets. In addition to these problems, he was faced with others that were unique to this area. Among those was the need for a new high school building which needed to be completed as soon as possible.
Considering the fact that the separate schools had to sacrifice some of their individuality to the uniformity of a single school district and the fact that some things were not always agreeable to all, the first year proceeded with an ever increasing unity which made the group feel confident that they had taken the right step and one for which they would always be grateful.
The name, Cardinal Community Schools, was chosen by the board from among many that had been suggested. It is well liked by everyone because of its meaning--chief and first. The advantage of the larger school is that it can offer a more adequate curriculum to prepare its graduates for life at the most reasonable cost possible.