OPS Elementary Schools - Southeast Area
Brief Explanation of Area:
The Southeast area expands from Interstate 80 north to Dodge and then from 30th Street east to the Missouri River. This area contains OPS’ first elementary school, opened Sept. 21, 1859, in the original territorial state house on 9th Street between Douglas and Farnam. The area also includes other schools built in the 1870s and 1880s as the population south of downtown Omaha grew. The area was filled with immigrant families, including Italians, Czechs, Polish, Germans, and Latinos. Early two-room schools were consolidated to create larger schools. Many of those original immigrant families moved out of the area in the 1970s and 1980s, and the low-enrollment schools were closed and sold to developers. Today, several of those early buildings are now apartments.
Southeast Area Map
2022 Southeast MIHV Project Video – A five-minute video with oral interview highlights from students who attended the former Omaha Public Schools Train and Lincoln Elementary Schools in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Those interviewed included Rose DiMauro (Lincoln), Kim Matteo (Lincoln), Connie Mangano (Train), Nancy D'Agosta Calinger (Lincoln), Kathyrn Zielinksi (Lincoln), Phil "P.J." Astra (Train) and Joe Radicia (Comenius).
OPS Elementary School History – Southeast Area
A 14-minute PowerPoint presentation produced by students participating in the 2022 Omaha Public Schools Making Invisible Histories Visible program highlighting the history, demographics and the 1976 desegregation plan of Dodge, Bancroft, Castelar, Vinton and Comenius Elementary Schools in the Southeast Area of Omaha.
Brief Explanation of Desegregation/Busing:
Prior to Omaha Public School’s court-ordered “Desegregation Plan” that implemented mandatory busing from 1976 to 1999, schools within the Southeast Division were predominantly white. Students attending Southeast area schools were transported to Saratoga Elementary School, a predominantly Black school, in 2nd or 3rd grade. Alternatively, Saratoga students attended one of the Southeast Division schools in grades 4th, 5th, and 6th. This policy left a long-lasting impact on the students, families, and communities of OPS as the process of integration created more diverse experiences for all.
Demographics in 2020-21:
Today the area is growing. Pine Elementary opened in the Fall of 2022 for pre-K through 5th-grade students. The school has room to accommodate up to 600 students at the former Grace University location on south 10th Street. The former predominately white population at Bancroft and Castelar elementary schools has flipped and is now primarily Hispanic, reflecting the rapid growth of this population since the 1980s.
2022 MIHV Project
The best part of my experience was going around and interviewing people that have attended these elementary schools because it was really cool learning about how different their lives as kids were compared to us now. – Rose
I’ve lived in Omaha for most of my life, but I didn’t know anything about the people or the history… History is everywhere even if you can’t see it. – Nang
I learned a lot of things about the community and what life was like in the late 1900s. I learned when schools were built, destroyed, moved, and repurposed. - Luca
Interviews July 2022:
Phil (P.J.) Astra, Train Elementary
Nancy D'Agosta Calinger, Lincoln Elementary
Rose DiMauro, Lincoln Elementary
Connie Mangano, Train Elementary
Kim Matteo, Lincoln Elementary
Joe Radicia, Comenius School
Kay Zielinsky, Lincoln Elementary
The Plan - Desegregation of the Omaha Public Schools, 1981-82
United States District Court Desegregation Plan for the School District of Omaha, May 1976
Desegregation Task Force Recommendations to the Superintendent, October 1998
The Durham Museum Archives
The Omaha World-Herald Archives
The Omaha Public Schools Archives/TAC Building