Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Sargent County's school district reorganization story began in 1947. In that year North Dakota's first comprehensive school district law was passed. Sargent County had twenty-nine school districts but needed a larger tax base to improve the quality of education. By November 1947, a County Reorganization Committee was formed and its actions became front-page news. School reorganization ignited great excitement throughout the county, and public interest ran high in 1948 because people worried about losing their schools and about pos sible tax increases. As people took sides, some friend ships were broken; town residents became united in the defense of their school, and competition between the towns became fierce.

After the initial furor of public concern, the task of reorganization settled on the school boards and county reorganization committee. Between 1949 and 1953 Sargent County experienced an interlude of community proposals, but all attempts for reorganization failed. The first successful reorganization proposal occurred in 1954 when Harlem School District was divided up between Cogswell and Stirum. Sections of land in eight-grade school dis tricts were annexed to nearby towns with high schools, and by the end of 1955 Sargent County had twenty-three school districts instead of twenty-nine.

Work began on a countywide school district in 1956 and continued in 1957. The plan involved territory from eighteen school districts, and nine towns would have sent their high school students to a central high school at Forman. Much controversy surrounded this prospectus in the days before the election, and the voters rejected it. However, residents in the western part of the county ap proved reorganization with their natural trading center in Dickey County.

School reorganization took an intriguing turn in 1959. Cogswell and Cayuga, low on funds, signed a one- year agreement with Forman, allowing their high school students to be taught at Forman. This merger, known as Sargent Central, proved to be successful, especially in sports. Next year the reorganization procedure went through without any problem. Also, in 1960 Gwinner and Stirum became North Sargent, and Milnor and DeLamere re organized. In 1961 land in the eastern part was annexed to Lidgerwood in Richland County. Rutland and Havana joined Sargent Central in 1963 and 1969. The school re organization process in Sargent County was completed in 1969, reducing twenty-nine school districts to three.

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