Nebraska students consistently achieve among the best average scores in the nation for both the Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT). Additionally, graduation rates are usually at or above 95 percent, with 90 percent choosing the path to higher educational opportunities.
Superior education is a strong facet of community life in Kearney, with area schools successfully producing well-educated, motivated and productive students. The Kearney Public Schools (KPS) system has dedicated itself to providing excellence in education for residents of the area, recently earning the Blue Ribbon Award from Expansion Management magazine and the What Parents Want Award from SchoolMatch. The district serves a total of nearly 5,000 students within its three preschools, 12 elementary schools, two middle schools and one high school.
The system’s elementary schools serve approximately 2,577 students, with a teacher-to-pupil ratio of 1:21. The KPS middle schools have approximately 1,043 students with a teacher-to-pupil ratio of 1:14. The high school has approximately 1,463 students enrolled with a teacher-to-pupil ratio of 1:18. Kearney’s positive growth has resulted in the need for additional elementary schools. Currently, construction is underway on two new elementary schools; one will house three classes, each of Kindergarten through 5th grade, and the other will provide two classes, each of Kindergarten through 5th grade. Additionally Meadowlark Elementary is adding on an additional unit of Kindergarten through 5th grade to its existing two units.
Kearney High School, built in 1959, has experienced significant expansion to accommodate the growing student population and necessary technology and equipment. Administrators, staff and parents associated with Kearney Public Schools are working to create an environment that fosters mutual respect, inspires the love of learning and expects excellence from all.
Vocational courses offered at the high school include consumer science, business education, computer science, marketing, industrial technology, power mechanics, welding, woodworking, machining, auto mechanics, drafting and construction technology. The school district provides for the physically and mentally handicapped from pre-K through age 21.
The public school route is not a choice everyone makes. Further significant parts of Kearney’s educational offerings include Faith Christian School (K-8); Zion Evangelical Lutheran School (Pre K-8); and Kearney Catholic High School, which stands as the region’s most established private, college preparatory high school for both young men and women.
Fully accredited by the state of Nebraska and the North Central Association of Schools, Kearney Catholic is a member of the National Catholic Education Association and functions under the guidance of the diocese of Grand Island. The institution serves students enrolled in grades six through 12 and offers smaller classrooms for a more personalized learning experience (the teacher-to-student ratio is 1:13).
Special needs schools are also offered in the area through such organizations as Mid-Nebraska Individual Services (MNIS), Vocational Rehabilitation and the State Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center.
MNIS Kearney affords an adult center for mentally challenged adults ages 18 and older. The center provides students with social services, transportation, basic skills, competitive employment and home management training.
Offered through the Nebraska Department of Education, Vocational Rehabilitation provides career counseling, job retraining and employment services to those with a physical, learning or psychiatric disability.
The State Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center-Kearney was established in 1879 with the development of a two-story brick building and school to house juvenile offenders in the city. The administration strives toward rehabilitation of boys and young men through a program of education, work and recreation. The goal is to return a well-rounded young man to his community where he can serve as a useful citizen.
Currently, the center serves a population of nearly 200.
Opportunities for higher learning are obtainable in Kearney as well. Central Community College (CCC) serves 25 counties in central Nebraska and offers a center within the Kearney community. CCC offers 33 career and technical education programs leading to a two-year degree, certificate and/or diploma. Online learning, adult education, English as a second language and business and professional training are also available through CCC.
For four-year endeavors, the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) is readily available. The University of Nebraska at Kearney is a student-centered regional hub of intellectual, cultural and artistic excellence that has been a prominent part of the Nebraska higher education landscape for more than a century.
UNK offers access to the opportunities of a major public university—a wide variety of programs that lead to exciting careers, nationally-renowned faculty, opportunities for undergraduate research and study abroad experiences and a rich and diverse campus life.
It is a university that quickly transforms nearly 6,700 students from around the world into a close-knit, supportive community. Students can select from among 170 undergraduate, 25 pre-professional and 34 graduate degree options, as well as the English Language Institute for international students. UNK draws students to the campus from all 93 Nebraska counties, 47 states and 46 countries. With a 17-1 student-to-faculty ratio, UNK students benefit from more than 300 faculty members who are widely recognized for excellence in scholarship, teaching and research. The award-winning faculty have received National Science Foundation grants, authored nationally recognized publications and received numerous outstanding teaching, research and creative awards.