Early schools in Minnesota were one-room schoolhouses. The first school in Carver County, built in 1855, was one of these. It became part of the first school district in Minnesota, Public School District #1 in Carver, which was formed in 1856.
Education has long been a high priority for Carver County. In 1857, a year before Minnesota became a state, there were already five school districts in the county. They were centered on Chaska, Chanhassen, Benton, Groveland, and Carver. The combined budget was $788.00 or $4.28 per child.
By the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were dozens of school districts in the county. There were more districts then, as travel and communication between the communities was harder, making it more difficult to have a central administration. Many of these included only one or two schools.
By the 1949–1950 school year there were about fifty separate school districts within Carver County. After this high point, the trend shifted, and from the 1950s forward the number of districts shrank. Communication between schools and administrators became easier. In the twenty-first century, Carver County is home to four school districts, with a budget in 2000 of 60 million dollars, or $5,300 per student. Each school district is a mix of public schools, private schools, and home school groups.
Independent School District #108 is based out of Norwood Young America. Commonly called the Central School District, it is also the smallest school district, with only three public schools. These three schools reach students from the towns of Norwood Young America, Hamburg, and Cologne. These schools are Central Elementary, Central Middle, and Central High. The district serves approximately one thousand students.
Waconia Independent School District #110 is based out of that city. It serves Waconia, New Germany, St. Bonifacius, and Minnetrista. Parts of both Carver and Hennepin Counties are covered by the district. It is home to five schools. They are Bayview Elementary, Southview Elementary, Clearwater Middle, Waconia High, and the Waconia Area Learning Center. The earliest records from this District date to 1891, although the district as it is today formed in the early 1970s. District #110 is known for its focus on agriculture and outdoor education. This includes Clearwater Middle School's "Edible Classroom" and yearly trips to the Boundary Waters. The district is also known for its HERO Coalition (Helping Empower and Respect Others), dedicated to combating bullying in schools.
Watertown's first teacher was William P. Buck, who taught for the 1857–1858 school year. More than a century later, in 1971, the Watertown-Mayer Independent School District #111 was formed. It is based out of Watertown, and serves the communities of Watertown, Mayer, and the surrounding area. The second smallest school district, has a primary, elementary, middle, and high school, all named Watertown-Mayer. It covers parts of Carver, Hennepin, and Wright Counties.
The final district is Independent School District #112, Eastern Carver County Schools. It is by far the largest school district in the county with sixteen public schools. These schools are Bluff Creek Elementary, Chanhassen Elementary, Victoria Elementary, Jonathan Elementary, East Union Elementary, Clover Ridge Elementary, Chaska Elementary, Chaska Middle School East, Chaska Middle School West, Pioneer Ridge Middle, Chaska High, Chanhassen High, La Academia, Kindergarten Center, Integrated Arts Academy, and the Carver Scott Educational Cooperative. District #112 was also formed in 1971 and is known for its diverse population. More than eleven languages are spoken by its students. District schools offer immersion classrooms, daily lessons, and classes taught in English and either Chinese or Spanish. This district is also one of the fastest growing in the county, with the largest class sizes and student bodies.
"Carver County, Minnesota, School Officers: 1949–1950." Carver County Historical Society Research Library subject files: Public School folder.
"Carver County School Districts, 1949–1950." Carver County Historical Society Research Library subject files: Carver County Public Schools folder. Chaska, 1950.
Hartley, Lucie. "History of School District 112." District #112 archives. Chaska, 1975.
Hoffman, Colleen. District #111 office. E-mail message to author, February 25, 2013.
Independent School District #108, Central School District.
Independent School District #110, Waconia School District.
Independent School District #111, Watertown-Mayer Schools.
Independent School District #112, Eastern Carver County Schools.
Johnson, Brett. District #112 office, Director of Communications and Community Relations. E-mail message to author, February 25, 2013 and February 26, 2013.
Killian, Jessica. District #110 office. E-mail message to author, February 26, 2013.
"One-Room School House." Educational program. Carver County Historical Society.
"Order of Consolidation." Chaska: July, 1949.
Carver County Public Schools folder, Carver County Historical Society Research Library.
Description: Files showing the school districts that once existed and what districts they were combined into.
After the high tide of approximately fifty separate school districts in Carver County for the 1949–1950 school year, districts begin many decades of merging together, culminating in just four districts for the whole county by 1971.