The first schoolhouse in Shirland Township was erected about 1840 at the site of the Shirland Congregational Church just west of Shirland Cemetery. It was built by Lemuel Fisk and Mr. William Reckhowwho settled on farms west of the cemetery in 1838. Logs were rafted down the Pecatonica River to a sawmill at Rockton where lumber and shingles were made for the schoolhouse.
On Sundays from 1846 until about 1851 this school building was the first home of the Congregational Church of Oakland (later Shirland). At about the same time, Methodist ministers who on horseback covered a circuit including the whole Sugar River area and also Free Will Baptists held services in the school. This schoolhouse was the site of Shirland Township elections in 1850 and 1851,
Another early schoolhouse in Shirland Township was a red schoolhouse near a farm that was owned or operated by Hazen Chandler in 1863-64-65, by E. S. Waite in 1866-67, and by R. C. Sweet during the years 1868 through 1876. This school was the site of Township elections in 1863, 1864, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1872, 1874, and 1876.
When the railroad came through along the edge of the Sugar and Pecatonica River bottoms, the village ofShirland was the unrivaled population, business, and social center of the township. There was a wood frame schoolhouse located near the depot in Shirland. Most of the township elections from1873 to 1892 were held in this school. The Shirland Township School trustees purchased the lot that this school was located on for $50.00on February 15, 1869, from John and Eliza Jane Donner.
In 1892 the Shirland village school district was called District Number 1. This designation was changed to District Number 32 in 1901 or 1902. The Shirland village school provided a two-year high school course around 1910.
About 1912 the Shirland Village School building was sold to Charles Packard who moved it to the southeast corner of North Street and Mitchell Street where it was used for a barbershop and pool hall. In March, 1963, the roof on this building was raised and a second floor apartment was constructed. In 1965 the first floor housed Welch Electric, Bernadine’s Beauty Shop and the Shirland Post Office.
About the same time that the previous village school was sold and moved, another wood frame school was erected on the same lot sometime around 1912. It consisted of two classrooms and a full basement. Shirland School was completely multiage at this time.
In 1941 the directors of Bennett School District 33 (west of Shirland) discontinued operation of their school and sent their pupils to Shirland District Number 32 on a tuition basis. In 1949 Districts Number 32 and 33 consolidated into District Number 134 with a 5 man Board consisting of Alvin Ramsby, President; RayHarkness, Clerk; Lydia Swain, Paige Carroll, and Clare Moody. Leffingwell District Number 11 sent their pupils to District Number 134 on a tuition basis starting with the 1949-1950 term. District Number 11 became consolidated with District 134 asofAugust18, 1951.
On March 14, 1953, voters elected to Consolidate District Number 134 and Coon Creek District Number 12 with a 7 man Board. The first members elected to this new District Number 134 were Joe Baker, President; Paul Yeager, Secretary; Robert Welch, Clare Moody, Robert Krebs, Donald DeVoe, and Wayne Williams.
Prior to March, 1953, Sweet and Wilson School Districts (North of the village of Shirland) had consolidated into District Number 135. District Number 135 later annexed to District Number 134. The only major addition to the area of District Number 134 since the annexation of District Number 135 has been the addition of a portion of Sand Prairie District Number 10 that was located east of the district in Rockton Township.
From December 13, 1965 Author Unknown
Update by Dr. Ulferts
In 1953 the newly elected Shirland Board of Education 134 decided to demolish the original 1912 two classroom, full basement Shirland School building with a new building. In 1954 the new Shirland School was opened and consisted of what is now the library, wellness room, boiler and boys and girls bathrooms. When the old school building was torn down, Board member Wayne Williams insisted on keeping its school bell which was later put on display and can now be seen across from Mr. Snyder’s room number 11.
In 1961 an addition added what is now the computer lab, storage room, and Mrs. Marion’s Kindergarten classroom room 40 and the resource room classroom 41. In 1966 the gym was added to the school building. The next addition in 1972 saw Mrs. Dobnick’s classroom room 10, Mr. Snyder’s classroom room 11, the Y Care / Ms. Wilhelm’s class number 17, staff lounge, book room number l9, and resource room number 20 added to the building. The kitchen and boys locker and shower rooms were also added at that time. Two years later, in l974, the stage, girls locker room, speech room, Ms. Fischer’s 5th grade classroom 47, multipurpose room 46, and Ms. Praneis’s room 45 were all added along with the Superintendent/Bookkeeper offices. The last major addition in l978 saw the of Mrs. Heavilin’s music room 25, the Art room 24, and Mrs. Pals’s room 23. 1978 saw the last major addition to the physical building though enhancements to the district have continued.
Even as state funding rapidly declined for the Shirland School District, grant funding allowed the district to continue enhancements and improvements. In 2009 a security vestibule was added by the main office. In 2011 the district replaced all of its lights and windows with cost savings energy efficient models. In 2012 the district purchased new scoreboards for the gym. The district received a $50,000 grant in 2013 which enabled it to put classroom libraries in every grade’s classroom, replace the social studies, and math curriculums. The PTO’s fundraising combined with grant monies to equip each classroom with whiteboards and document projectors. The aging sidewalk was replaced in 2014 as were the stage curtains which were the original ones dating back to 1974. The front bathrooms were remodeled in 2013 so that they could meet Americans with Disabilities standards. The district also installed new security cameras in and outside the building in 2014. A new internet tower was installed during the summer of 2015 providing Shirland School with high speed internet for the first time. A 1:1 initiative was launched in the 2017-18 school year providing 3rd thru 8th graders with chromebooks. In 2020 the school district purchased new G6 chromebooks for all Shirland students K-8. These chromebooks will remain at school for the 20-21 school year since the Board allowed students to keep the still functioning G4 chromebooks previously issued to them.
Through grant funding, and community support, Shirland School District has been able to continue to upgrade its facilities, technology, and curriculum even while state funding dramatically decreased.
In 2019 Shirland students had the highest Illinois Assessment of Readiness Math score of any district in Boone, Winnebago, or Stephenson counties and the second highest Science score.