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Introduction

The 126-year history of the Tucson Unified School District is a tale reflective of the patterns of growth and activity in our community. Often people look back on the past as a "golden era" in which everything was better than it is today. As we examine the records, however, we find that throughout time similar problems have been encountered: inadequate finances, overcrowded classrooms, critical newspaper editorials, conflict between school board, administration and teachers, and public controversy over elections.

A search of the available public records also reveals that Tucson Unified School District has been a state and national leader in education for many years. Educational excellence, high standards, progressive curriculum, and community partnership have been hallmarks of the Tucson Unified School District for much of its existence. From early days, attempts to meet the needs of diverse populations have been the norm rather than the exception. Adaptive education, bilingual education, and alternative education are just a few areas in which School District 1 is recognized as a leader.

 

Threads of continuity
While growth and construction of new schools have been central factors in the history of TUSD, the true story of any district is written in the efforts and achievements of the students, faculty, and administration who form its core. Tucson Unified School District chose to name most of its buildings in recognition of services to the students and employees of the district. The list of school names is a roster of honor recognizing men and women who dedicated their lives to the education of children. Many of them also spent personal time serving the Tucson community at large.

Names of individual schools have changed in various ways over the years. Some names have disappeared entirely. Others have been converted or merged. A wholesale change occurred in the 1980s when all the "junior high schools" became "middle schools." Whenever a change occurred, an explanation is given for the action.

Professional qualifications for teachers rose throughout the years. The minimum educational level for employment as a teacher increased from high school graduate more than a century ago, to normal school graduate, to the current minimum bachelor's degree requirement. For at least half of its history, it was policy to hire only experienced teachers. Even today, the majority of teachers hired have some experience before coming to TUSD.

For many decades the neighborhood school was the ideal, and schools were built to support that ideal. Yet, with scattered population, a "neighborhood" might require busing over several miles. Only the minimum required number of classrooms were built, thereby necessitating constant additions as the community grew. Often the children arrived before extra classrooms were finished, requiring double sessions and overcrowded sites for several decades. During the post-World War II boom years, many students were bused to several different schools during their elementary grades as a result of constant construction. As the list of school sites unfolds, it is noteworthy how few have been closed over the years.

The massive building program of the '50s and '60s carried a hidden time bomb, however. Schools were built with a practical life of 25-30 years, which meant that the entire physical plant of the school district would need significant repairs and renovations by the end of the 20th century. That is the period in which this revised edition of The First Hundred Years has been written.

 

Organization of this book
To read this history in a purely chronological order would become tedious. Therefore, although each chapter covers a consecutive twenty-year period, within that period a loose structure by decade has been organized. Educational events and economic conditions are addressed before including construction of schools within that span of time. In most cases, biographical material concerning those for whom schools were named appears when the school was built.

As all of the schools have had multiple additions and renovations over the last century and a quarter, school physical sizes and costs are presented for the original structures only.

Some school board members and superintendents have played significant roles in the history of this district, while the impact of others has been less notable over time. The appendices include a chronological listing of all persons who have filled these positions.