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The Boom Years 1950 - 1960 - Part 4

In July, 1953, Herbert Cooper, who had been a teacher and Dean of Boys at Tucson High School, was made coordinator of Auxiliary Agencies for the school district. One of his duties was to purchase school sites. Cooper immediately reversed a practice. Throughout the years District 1, when faced with the need for a new building, set about to find a site. In reversing the procedure, Cooper enlisted the aid of the City and County Planning Departments. Together, they projected school populations based on areas and Cooper set about buying school sites according to the projections, setting up a standard that elementary sites would be located in the center of square-mile elementary sub-districts when possible. The elementary school graduates would feed into centrally located junior high schools and the junior high graduates would feed into centrally located senior high schools.

If populations did not locate in the areas of Cooper's and the planning departments' site projections, the School District would be in trouble. As it turned out, the projections were at least 99 per cent perfect.

Cooper shrewdly bargained and hammered for school sites in a big-bear real estate market in the following years.

Cooper, to date, has purchased 51 Elementary School sites for a total of 508 acres for $677,618; 14 Junior High School sites totaling 287 acres for $355,340; and eight High School sites for a total of 320 acres for $319,400. The 73 sites comprise a total of 1,115 acres costing $1,352,358. Average acre cost was $1,212.88. In addition, the federal government has withheld from future sale or use 18, 10-acre sites which may be acquired by the District when need is shown. These sites were located in the west side of the District.

According to Supt. Morrow and present School Board members, Cooper's real estate acumen and hard-nosed bargaining have saved the District $2 million on school site purchasing below the going market price.

So appreciative was the School Board that a camp site in the Tucson Mountain Foothills on West Trails End Road was named "Camp Cooper." The area has concrete tent stands, cooking facilities and rest-rooms--built at a cost of $20,000 in federal funds. Camp Cooper, on land leased from the state, is used for desert field studies for elementary school children. It was also used as a site for the Camp Echo project, a summer camp for handicapped children. The camp was also available to other school districts.

Superintendent Morrow, who believed in and worked for more school funds on the state level--thus lessening the load on district taxpayers and distributing school costs over a broader base--as early as 1950 supported a movement in the State Legislature to enact a school tax equalization program. It was to be a number of years, however, before the Legislature made any progress in this area other than to continue to give small increases in average daily attendance payments. In 1959, the Legislature enacted a one per cent school excise tax--actually a sales tax--and set up a county equalization program that was totally inadequate.

In 1964, the people of the state approved an initiative petition which established the principle of state equalization to broaden the state's aid to schools.

Giving heavy backing to the proposition were the Arizona Congress of Parents and Teachers, the Arizona Education Association and, locally, school PTA's and the Tucson Education Association. Mrs. Helen Hafley, now a Tucson School Board member, spearheaded the campaign.

The passage of the proposal, a constitutional amendment, mandated the State Legislature to enact legislation implementing the amendment. This the Legislature did in 1965, but educators throughout the state have criticized the statute as not producing enough revenue.

Morrow also supported a bill in 1950 which would place non-certified (non-teaching) personnel in school districts under the Arizona Teacher's Retirement System. The non-certified employees are now under the state retirement system.

Other developments in the district in the 1950's included:

--A clinical psychologist was appointed to supplement the counseling service.

--The school safety patrol which was being financed by Lions Club International at the urging of teacher Charles Dietz, was returned to the district when the club found that it could no longer financially support the program. Under the present program the City of Tucson and Pima County make annual appropriations to the district for equipment, such as helmets and cross belts. District 1 furnishes its own crossing signs and warehouses equipment for all local school districts. District 1, during the 1966-67 school year, employed 34 crossing guards.

--In the fall of 1950, the Pima County Medical Society was concerned about dust control on school grounds and on streets abutting the schools, saying that the dust constituted a health hazard. So began a program of district participation in paving projects and later in the decade of planting grass on school grounds.

--During the decade, a movement began for a 12-month school program, and the idea has been heard again and again through the years. Continuous operation of the schools, with children to attend in staggered nine-month sessions, was supposed to relieve the pressing school housing problem, the theory being that one-fourth of proposed construction would not be needed. Parents, however, became incensed. Winter visitors with children, they said, would necessarily have preference to send their children to school in the winter months; the summers were too hot, especially the noonday sun; it would be impossible to coordinate the school schedules for families having children of different ages in the public school system; summer months were used for school repairs; and some families would lose vacation trips because their children would be in school. The idea of year-round school was dropped after a study of the Citizens Report by the University of Oregon Research Bureau indicated that the Tucson plan would not be feasible financially.

--The District was plagued by increasing water costs, particularly with the playground grassing program. Wells were dug at a number of schools and at new schools to lower the cost.

--The district began hiring married women teachers and set up a program of maternity leaves.

--The Korean War in the early part of the decade had little effect on the school district, other than losing a number of high school students who were either called into service or enlisted.

--The southwest corner of the present District was annexed on June 19, 1951, giving the district its present size. The area was unorganized and did not have a school.

--The Special Education program was enlarged to teach physically handicapped children at Comstock Hospital, the Tucson Medical Center and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Classes for "mentally slow" children were continued with three at Roskruge Junior High, three at Carrillo Elementary and one each at Davis and Drachman. Today, there are three Special Education Schools--Howenstine, Gump and Covert--and numerous Special Education classes at other schools. The homebound teaching program was also started.

--In 1952, a radio broadcasting bureau was established in the basement of the Vocational building at Tucson High School to train students in all areas of radio broadcasting business. The bureau today makes tapes of school news for rebroadcast over local stations. Glenwood Broyles, present Coordinator for Radio and Television, was the first instructor at the radio bureau.

--In the 1954-55 school year the high schools which had been three-year schools, were increased to four-year schools, taking the ninth grade from the junior schools.

Grades one through eight by state law are designated as "common," or elementary schools. Grades nine through twelve are designated as high school grades. Budget difficulties are created if this system is not adhered to. For example, a junior high of grades seven, eight and nine could present budgetary problems because seventh and eight grade textbooks were furnished free to students by the District but under the law, ninth grade textbooks were not.

--During the decade a number of petitions from parents were presented asking for the establishment of kindergartens, suspended in District 1 in 1932. State law permitted kindergartens if they did not interfere with the work of other grades, but no state funds were available for them. District 1 decided that it could not afford the expense of hiring additional teachers and building rooms. Efforts have been increasing in the 1960's to persuade the Legislature to finance kindergartens at half the present average daily attendance payments.

--In 1956, the School Board established the practice of holding one education meeting a month in addition to the regular once-a-month business meeting. The education meeting is designed to explain particular school programs to the public.

--In 1956, the School Board established closed campuses--students either must remain on campus during free periods and the noon hour or obtain permission from parents to leave the school grounds to go to their homes. The Board minutes reflect that the policy was adopted "to curb juvenile delinquency."

--In 1959, school terms were standardized on all levels at 180 days per year.

--In January, 1959, the first issue of the "Tucson Public Schools News" was published and publication of this newspaper of school activities has continued during the school months since then. It was produced by District Director of Publications John H. Fahr, who was hired by the school district in this position on November 12, 1957. The department produced a number of other publications and advised on productions of other departments such as departmental booklets and teacher guides, and was in charge of public information.

Since creation of the Publications Department, $41,775,000 in school bond issues were approved by District voters.

As pointed out in the section on revamping of the business office, the District began to make use of citizen committees. Others helpful to the District during the 1950-60 decade included:

In 1955, a 75-member citizens committee, divided into sub-committees, studied all aspects of school building needs prior to the 1955 bond election. Recommendations were made to the School Board as to the ideal size of schools and facilities to be incorporated into new schools as well as other physical aspects of construction.

Also in 1955, a citizens committee headed by banker Holden Olsen and Mrs. Helen Hafley (present Board member) studied the school lunch program and gave the School Board a written report with recommendations that the program be continued and cafeteria and kitchen facilities be planned for future schools.

In 1958, a citizens committee composed of business leaders, PTA representatives, and Chamber of Commerce committees, headed by Fred Stoffl, backed the 1958 bond issue, collected a fund for publicity and published a brochure to explain building needs. This committee had a large responsibility for the success of the bond issue.

By the 1959-60 school year, teachers' salary schedules under Morrow's influence had been raised significantly. Here was the salary schedule at that time:

Bachelor's Degree--$4,400 minimum, $7,300 maximum.

Bachelor's and 30 approved hours--$4,500 minimum, $7,500 maximum.

Master's or 45 approved hours--$4,600 minimum, $7,700 maximum.

Master's and 15 approved hours--$4,700 minimum and $7,800 maximum.

Master's and 30 approved hours--$4,800 minimum and $7,900 maximum.

Master's and 45 approved hours--$4,900 minimum and $8,000 maximum.

The annual increment increase was $250 per year until the maximum salary was reached. After 25 years' service, an extra $100 was to be added to the salary. Ten days of sick leave per year were permitted with pay and the teacher was allowed to accumulate 90 days.

In the 1949-50 school year, the peak enrollment in the Elementary District was 12,981 and the peak enrollment in the High School District was 3,893 for a total of 16,874. In the 1959-60 school year, 10 years' later, the peak Elementary District enrollment was 29,429 and the peak High School District enrollment was 8,807 for a total of 38,236.

As the decade opened in 1950, the School Board was composed of Judge Fred W. Fickett, Oliver Drachman and P. E. Howell. Fickett was president of the Board and Drachman was Clerk.

On May 15, 1950, Howell resigned due to ill health. Mrs. P. H. Ross, County School Superintendent, appointed Dr. Delbert L. Secrist, who was to remain on the Board until he decided not to run for re-election in the fall of 1966.

In the October 28, 1950, election, Secrist received 963 votes compared to 78 received by Mrs. Dorothy Burkhart. Drachman was elected President in January, 1951, and Fickett was elected Clerk.

Drachman was re-elected on October 27, 1951, and received 2,383 votes. Lois Anderson had 800 votes and Oscar Angel, 15. Drachman was retained as President by the Board and Secrist was elected Clerk.

Fickett, seeking re-election, on October 14, 1952, was defeated by Robert Salvatierra Jr. 4,934 votes to 3,883. Drachman was re-elected President and Secrist was re-elected Clerk.

On October 13, 1953, Secrist was re-elected, receiving 9,255 votes. His opponent, William C. Frey, received 3,601 votes. One write-in ballot was cast for a "Lindsay," with no other identification shown. In January, 1954, the Board reelected Drachman and Secrist as President and Clerk.

In the legislative session of 1954, the State Legislature yielded to continuing pressure for larger school boards and passed permissive legislation allowing school districts to establish five-man boards if the district voters indicated they desired the larger board in an election.

The election in District 1 was called for August 3, 1954. The five-man board was approved by a vote of 1,355 to 23. School Board terms were to be five years.

In the October 5, 1954, election, three new members were to be elected to the Board with the one receiving the highest number of votes to serve five years, the second high to serve four years and the third high to serve three years. From then on, a new member would be elected each year to serve a five-year term.

Mrs. Nan E. Lyons won the five-year term with 6,274 votes; Clarence A. Betts was elected to the four-year term with 3,892; and Jacob Fruchthendler won the three-year term with 3,709 votes. Other candidates and votes received were Russell C. Ewing 3,703, William Wright 3072, Clarence Houston 2,433, Rose Silver 2,101, Robert D. Calvert 1,747, Gordon Greenwald 1,335 and Herbert Weld 1,335. Robert Addison received one write-in vote. Oliver Drachman, the retiring Board member, did not seek re-election.

Secrist was elected President of the Board in January and Salvatierra was named Clerk.

Salvatierra did not run for re-election in the October 4, 1955, election. Elected to take his place was Russell C. Ewing, unopposed, who received 393 votes. One write-in vote each was cast for Holden Olsen, W. E. McMillan and William R. Mathews.

Ewing, a University of Arizona professor, resigned May 24, 1956, to take a teaching position in Bogota, Colombia, South America. Dr. William Pistor, also a University of Arizona professor and a former Tucson City Councilman, was appointed to take Ewing's place.

On October 2, Secrist was elected unopposed to a five-year term, receiving 515 votes. One write-in each was given to Ed Crehan and Tom Cranther.

In January, 1957, Secrist was elected President of the Board and Betts was elected Clerk.

Jacob C. Fruchthendler ran for re-election unopposed on October 1 , 1957 and received 6,277 votes. A total of 227 write-in votes was cast for a number of persons.

In January, Secrist again was elected President and Mrs. Lyons was elected Clerk.

Clarence A. Betts did not seek re-election on October 7, 1958, and Norval W. Jasper, a Tucson attorney and former State Legislator, was elected in a field of three. Jasper received 1,903 votes. Opposing him were Lawrence R. Walsh, who received 832 votes, and Jerome Parrish (a write-in candidate), who received 111 votes.

Again in January, 1959, Secrist was reelected President and Mrs. Lyons was re-elected Clerk.

Mrs. Lyons was re-elected to a five-year term on October 6, 1959, receiving 843 votes. She was unopposed.

In January, Secrist and Mrs. Lyons were reelected President and Clerk of the Board.

Budgets for the decade were:

Year High School Elementary
Schools Total

1950-51 $1,387,073 $3,259,861 $4,646,934

1951-52 1,454,882  3,687,390  5,142,272

1952-53 1,618,619  4,228,929  5,847,548 (1)

1953-54 1,705,944  4,854,702  6,560,646

1954-55 2,180,969  5,261,955  7,442,924

1955-56 2,975,285  6,405,819  9,381,104

1956-57 4,124,885  8,130,046  12,254,931

1957-58 4,049,925 9,156,791  13,206,716

1958-59 5,198,452    9,690,798  14,889,250

1959-60 5,120,189 11,499,745  16,619,934


(1)On May 19, 19S3, the Board was forced to exceed the budget by $85,000 for teachers' salaries. The year's enrollment increased 14 per cent over the previous year instead of an anticipated 9 or 10 per cent increase.


First Hundred Years, By James F. Cooper, Edited by John H. Fahr, Tucson, Arizona, 1967