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Morrow, End of An Era - Part 2

Opened on January 2, 1964, it was named in honor of Elbert A. Gump, who began his teaching career in Seymour, Iowa, in 1914 and retired as principal of Sam Hughes School, District 1, in 1961.

He came to the District in 1938 as a pioneer of Special Education at a time when only a limited amount of knowledge existed in that field. He served as principal of Carrillo School from 1941 to 1947 and then moved to Sam Hughes School as its principal.

In 1964, Gump was given a special award of merit by the Tucson Education Association "for his devotion to children in Tucson Schools and his sustained interest in and service to the cause of public education in the community since his retirement."

The children's section of the Tucson Public Library in Himmel Park was dedicated in Gump's honor by the PTA. He is a past district governor of Rotary International and past president of the Arizona Department of Elementary School Principals.

In the spring of 1963, the School Board and Superintendent Morrow began talking about another bond election to make up for the issues that failed in 1962, but it was not until March 10, 1964, that the people voted again against expanding the needed physical plant of School District 1.

The failure of the 1964 bond issues would make a study in itself, but it is worthwhile to make a cursory examination of it.

When the high school issue was turned down in May, 1962, the high school peak enrollment was 10,773 and by the spring semester of 1964, the high school peak enrollment was 13,289. The crowded, double-session problem had not been relieved by a bond issue and matters worsened. Even though the 1962 elementary (and junior high) issue was approved, the elementary school peak enrollment rose from 32,065 in 1962 to 34,486 in the spring of 1964. More space was urgently needed.

The Board signified an intention on January 30, 1964, of calling three bond issues. They were intended to build four new elementary schools with additions and portables at existing schools, two new junior high schools and additions at existing junior highs; three new high schools were proposed; and a central kitchen and additions to the Education Center were to be built.

In a state of shock, newspapers reported that the record proposal would amount to about $19 million and on February 1, 1964, the Arizona Daily Star made it clear that it wasn't buying. Said the Star:

"There is no question that the schools are needed; but to use this pressing need to uphold the extravagant administration of the schools is another matter." The editorial went on to cite increasing tax rates and the "refusal" of the School Board to cut its budget. It said that the salaries of the District's teachers were "among the highest in the entire country...The voters have a right to demand prudent, thrifty housekeeping instead of the present loose, extravagant housekeeping. To get good housekeeping they will have to vote 'No' as a stern rebuke to the Board."

The Star's attacks continued steadily through the weeks until the March 10 election.

Seeing such strong opposition (the Citizen did not take a positive stand) the School Board came forward with an alternate plan costing $11,390,000 as compared to the first proposal of $18,989,000, and held public hearings to determine the wish of the people.

About the only organized opposition outside of the Star's came from a cranky and loud group known as POPA, the Property Owners Protective Association. But, as it turned out the opposition was effective.

Following the public meetings, the Board misinterpreted the feelings of the majority of the District's taxpayers and approved the $18,989,000 issues for vote on March 10. The shooting began anew.

The Star accused Morrow of calling his teachers to "a secret night meeting so that he could thoroughly brainwash them on the pending election." Other (and historically old) charges were made, including one that school children were being used as agents to deliver "propaganda" to their parents.

So-called per-pupil costs in the District were compared to costs in other districts. Square footage costs were made an issue. And, in a state of bewilderment, the Board found one of its members, Dan C. McKinney, campaigning against the issues.

As stated, the Tucson Daily Citizen did not take a positive stand. On February 10, 1964, it headlined on its editorial page, "We Cannot Honestly Fight Or Support School Bonds." The editorial said that if the bonds were defeated, Tucson soon would suffer a serious shortage of classrooms. On the other hand, the Citizen said, if the bonds passed, "School taxes--which are already too high--will go higher."

The School Board members, realizing they would receive no newspaper support, set about organizing a complex campaign. Student support was volunteered by an organization called "SPOT"--Student Progress Organization of Tucson. Other committees were formed in the business community, including a Citizens for School Bonds Committee which set up a speaker's panel. PTA groups were fed information and school administration officials spoke at gatherings in the school and before civic clubs.

A public relations firm was hired as a consultant using school funds. This was the firm of "Judy Williams" and almost immediately the Star and Citizen protested the action on grounds it was an illegal use of school funds. Then two taxpayers, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Fannin, filed a taxpayers' suit, protesting the use of public funds for the purpose and, although the School Board was vindicated in court in December, 1966, the damage was done.

On March 10, a record turnout of 25,897 voters defeated the issues by large margins. The votes were:

Proposition 1--$5,255,000 for the elementary district--14,243 "No" votes to 10,526 "Yes" votes.

Proposition 2--$535,000 for a central kitchen and a third floor to the Education Center building--17,349 "No" votes to 8,150 "Yes" votes.

Proposition 3--$13,199,000 for three new high schools--15,934 "No" votes to 9,766 "Yes" votes.

Some of the reasons for the defeat are obvious--most of the newspaper publicity was adverse; the Board itself was split; and the Board did not sense the true feeling of the majority of the District voters.

In 1963, an interesting article was written by Otis A. Crosby, of Detroit Public Schools. It was entitled "Four And Twenty Guides To Success In A School Bond Or Millage Campaign."

Among the "guides" were these:

--"Know public attitudes of six months to a year prior to the projected election date." The School Board obviously did not know the attitudes and certainly either the attitude of the two daily newspapers was unknown or ignored if known.

--"Avoid March, April and May like the plague." The election was held March 10 (and the 1962 election, in which the high school issue was defeated, was held in May).

--"Timing of the campaign is extremely important. The campaign proper should be confined to the two or three weeks prior to election day." As was reported, the original bond proposal was made official on January 30, some five weeks before the election and rumors of the coming issue had appeared in newsprint as early as December, 1963.

--"Center the responsibility for the campaign in the hands of one person." This was not done. The outside public relations firm was hired; the District's own publications office did its work; and interested groups seemed to scurry around in different directions on whim.

--"In general, a small voter turnout is indicative of a 'Yes' majority, provided campaign emphasis has been directed to the known friends of the schools." The School Board in the 1964 issue found itself helpless in directing the emphasis at known friends. It found itself defending itself, with the defensive position mandated by the first Star editorial.

--"In all contacts with the public play down the costs of education and play up services rendered." The School Board, again found itself defending the costs of education, the construction costs, its budget. Had it ignored the charges and played up services rendered for money spent, the result might have been changed.

With the defeat of the March 10 issues, the School Board was not allowed to lick wounds in peace. Two days later, the Star published an editorial entitled, "The School Board Should Resign."

Editor William R. Mathews wrote that the defeat of the issues was "a vote of no confidence" in the Board. "If Dr. Delbert Secrist, president of the School Board, and his associates really feel sorry for the school children, if they really want more schools built, they could open the way by resigning." The editorial closed with, "The present School Board members, with the one exception of Dan McKinney, should resign. They do not have the confidence of the voters any longer."

The Board members chose not to resign--with the exception of McKinney who resigned from the Board on December 2, 1964, giving the need to earn a living as the reason.

The peak school enrollment in the spring of 1964, when the nearly $19 million in bond issues were defeated, was 47,668. Overcrowding continued. The peak enrollment in the 1964-65 school year reached 48,337 and on December 21, 1964, the Citizen asked in an editorial, "Why doesn't the School Board start studying a bond issue?" The editorial went on to advise the Board to begin the study immediately and not "surprise the public again."

But the Board did not choose to act immediately, although it began making a study of the schools' minimum needs. On August 28, 1965, the Board announced that an $11,450,000 bond issue would be voted upon October 5. Noting the disastrous defeat of the central kitchen and the addition to Education Center, the Board did not include them as proposals. The elementary district issue was set at $2,030,000 to build Carson Junior High School and Irene Erickson Elementary School as well as classroom additions to existing schools. Libraries from bond funds, and from 10-cent levy funds, were to be built at Wakefield, Mansfeld, Spring, Townsend, Utterback and Vail Junior High Schools.

The high school issue was set at $9,420,000 to build Sahuaro and Cholla High Schools and to provide classroom additions and portable classrooms at Pueblo and Rincon High Schools.

Both the Citizen and the Star supported the issues.

On September 15, 1965, the Star said: "The taxpaying voters will save themselves money by voting 'Yes' on all of the bond issues on the ballot." It noted that the construction price of Sahuaro High School had been cut by eliminating certain features.

On September 30, 1965, the Citizen under the editorial title of "District 1 Bonds are Imperative," noted:

"The Tucson District 1 school bonds, therefore, represent a solid conservative program which is entirely justifiable and supportable."

Also supporting the issue was the Arizona Register, official Catholic newspaper in Tucson.

The bonds carried easily. The vote was:

Proposition 1--$2,030,000 for the elementary district--9,332 "Yes" votes to 3,437 "No" votes.

Proposition 2--$9,420,000 for the high school district--9,510 "Yes" votes to 3,410 "No" votes.

Carson Junior High School, 7777 E. Stella Road, opened for the 1967-68 school year.

Architects for the school were Cain, Nelson & Wares. Contract was awarded to Defco Construction Co. for $1,061,897. The school will have 21 rooms and a multi-purpose room.

The new junior high was named for Charles A. Carson, who served as assistant principal and principal of Tucson High School and associate superintendent of District 1 for a total of 40 years.

Carson was born in Belmont, West Virginia, and attended elementary school in St. Mary's. He graduated from St. Mary's High School in 1917. After graduation his family moved to Morgantown where he entered the University of West Virginia.

The family moved to Tucson in 1920, where Carson attended the University of Arizona and received his Bachelor's degree. He later received a Master's degree at Stanford University.

He began teaching at Casa Grande High School in 1921 and in 1924 came to Tucson to be assistant principal and dean of boys at Tucson High School. He was made principal of THS in 1935 and moved up to associate superintendent of the District in 1950. Carson retired at the end of the school year, 1963.

He was active in civic and educational organizations throughout his career. He was called "Mr. Education in Arizona," for his services as president of the Arizona Education Association and Arizona director of the National Education Association.

After seeing many of his students become successful businessmen, doctors, lawyers and engineers, Carson said, "I can't help but feel a sense of pride that I had something to do with their success, but I feel I must also take the credit for those who didn't meet with success."

Carson died September 17, 1965.

The principal for the new school is George McConnell, former principal at Doolen Junior High School.

The Irene Erickson Elementary School, designed by Russell Hastings to be built at 6750 E. Stella Road, was let for bids in late 1966. When the bids were opened in January, 1967, however, it was found that the lowest bidder, Defco Construction Co., was nearly 40 per cent higher than the $472,000 which had been allotted from bond funds for the school. Defco's bid was $658,647.

The School Board then added $85,000 to the $472,000 and ordered that the plans be redrawn. They were, and final plans were approved by the Board in June, 1967. Mrs. Mary Belle McCorkle was appointed principal of Erickson School.

Bids were called for Erickson School for the second time and on August 22, 1967, Defco Construction Co. was again the low bidder, this time coming well within the amount budgeted. Defco's bid was for $505,050.

At this writing, final approval of the bid must come from the Pima County Board of Supervisors. Approval is usually automatic and construction should begin some time in the early fall of 1967. Completion is expected in the spring of 1968.

The school was named for Miss Irene Erickson, who was Assistant Superintendent in charge of Elementary Education, at the time of her retirement from the School District at the close of the school term in 1965.

Miss Erickson came to the District in 1929 and was instrumental in developing the helping teacher program which provides assistance to primary and intermediate grade teachers, particularly the new and inexperienced teachers who join the staff each year.

As a result of her urging, multi-purpose rooms were instituted in Tucson elementary schools as a place for school programs, PTA meetings and other related activities, as well as their use as lunch rooms and often as classrooms when schools become crowded.

A native of North Dakota, Miss Erickson received her education at the University of North Dakota, the University of Minnesota, the University of Arizona where she earned her B.A. Degree in education, Arizona State University, UCLA, and Columbia University, where she received her M.A. in Administration and Supervision.

She first taught in Tucson at University Heights School and later taught at Miles School. She was principal of Mission View School from 1943 to 1951, when she was appointed administrative assistant to the superintendent. She was appointed assistant superintendent in charge of elementary education in 1954.

Sahuaro High School, 444 N. Camino Seco, was expected to be ready for classes in September, 1968.

Architects for the school were Friedman & Jobusch. The construction contract was awarded M. M. Sundt Construction Co. at a total of $4,981,750. The school was planned to have a library large enough to serve as a neighborhood branch library, according to the architects. One large gymnasium with boys' and girls' locker rooms and a dividing curtain in the main gym, three two story classroom wings, cafeteria, auditorium, industrial education shops and administration offices were other features.

Principal of Sahuaro was Henry D. Egbert, former assistant principal at Catalina High School.

Cholla High School was planned to be located at 2001 W. 22nd Street and expected to be completed in 1969. Estimated construction cost was $3,970,000. Architect was Nicholas Sakellar.

Peak school enrollment in the school year 1966-67 was 50,366 and early in 1967 Pima County Planning Department published a survey of future school population growth and resulting needs for classrooms.

The Department reported that the school population would increase at the rate of 1,140 per year through 1969-70 and recommended new construction of 91 elementary classrooms, 36 junior high classrooms and 48 senior high classrooms.

When the Planning Department's story was released, the Tucson Daily Citizen estimated that the needs would cost in the neighborhood of $12 million. The published figure jolted administration officials and School Board members, who could not be blamed for being gunshy. The Board members and administration officials huddled with the District's engineering experts and began to trim. Only classrooms desperately needed were approved and in a number of cases portables were planned as temporary solutions to the school population overflow.

With the figure of $8,985,000 as a minimum, School Board members decided to try to forestall any repeat of newspaper massacre. They visited Mathews of the Star, and Paul McKalip, George McLeod and William Millburn--the editorial staff of the Citizen. They explained the honing that had been done on the estimated $12 million and won unqualified support for the issue. On April 18, 1967, the Board officially called for the bond election as of June 1.

It will be remembered that the Detroit "guidelines" said to avoid the spring months as they would avoid the plague, but the Board was stymied. The Pima County Junior College Board had announced that it would call a bond election for a date in early October, 1967, and the School Board did not wish to call an election that might come within a few weeks of that one. The Board had sensed a certain coolness to the junior college issue by the press and it did not want the District issue to become involved. It was decided, therefore, to chance the issue for June 1, 1967.

The two daily newspapers and a new third newspaper, the Tucson American supported the issue, as did the Catholic newspaper, the Arizona Register. Town weeklies also joined in the support.

The School Board used the "soft sell." Although it had support from SPOT, the Tucson League for Public Schools, the PTA groups and the Committee of 100 and other civic organizations, no organized, administration-sponsored effort was launched. The Board, probably not fully realizing it, adopted this attitude: "Here is what you need, taxpayers, take the ball and run with it or face up to more double sessions."

The philosophy worked. On June 1, the issue was approved two-to-one. The votes were:

Proposition 1--$3,335,000 for the elementary district--5,159 "Yes" votes to 2,606 "No" votes.

Proposition 2--$5,650,000 for the high school district--5,128 "Yes" votes to 2,661 "No" votes.

The elementary district money will build an eastside elementary school to be named Gale Elementary and a westside school in the Avra Valley, as yet unnamed. It will provide additions to several existing schools including approximately 10 portable classrooms, site development and acquisition funds and furniture and equipment. It will also build a junior high school on the westside (probably to be named Secrist Junior High since the Board voted to name the next junior high school after former-member Dr. Delbert Secrist).

Architect for Gale Elementary School was Arthur T. Brown. The westside elementary school was designed by Carl LeMar John, and William Wilde & Blanton & Cole produced plans for the westside junior high.

The high school issue planned to build a new high school and add a fine arts wing to Catalina High School. Rincon and Pueblo High Schools received new classrooms. Furniture and equipment, approximately 23 portables, site development and site purchases absorbed the remainder of the high school district bond issues.

Plans for Sahuaro High School, then under construction in northeast Tucson, reused for the first phases of the new southeast high school. This sped up construction. Architects Friedman & Jobusch designed the new high school based on the Sahuaro plans.

Gale Elementary School was named after Miss Laura O. Gale, Tucson High School teacher who retired in 1954.

Born June 5, 1899 in Beatrice, Nebraska, Miss Gale received her Bachelor's degree from Nebraska University in 1912. She received her Master's degree in 1937 from the University of Arizona.

When she joined Tucson High School's staff in 1920, she first taught English classes in a basement room in what is now Roskruge Junior High School. Occupying half of the room, divided by a thin partition, was the high school band, directed by W. Arthur Sewell. Some of Miss Gale's former students say that despite the noise, she maintained her pleasant humor and was able to teach them English.

Miss Gale later taught geometry in the new Tucson High School and assisted in guidance and counseling beginning in 1951.

Secrist Junior High School on the westside will honor Dr. Delbert L. Secrist, who has been mentioned a number of times in this history.

Secrist retired from the School Board at the end of the calendar year 1966 after serving 16 years on the Board, 12 years as its President.

During his residency in Tucson, Dr. Secrist has been a popular community leader, youth leader and well-known physician and surgeon. He is a former All-American athlete. During his service on the Board, District 1 built 47 new schools, including four high schools and others on the planning tables.

A native of Pennsylvania, Dr. Secrist graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School and came to Arizona in 1936 after completing post graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania. In World War II, he served as a medical officer in the Air Force from 1942 to 1946, rising to the rank of major. He was president of the Arizona School Board Association from 1952 to 1954.

The esteem in which Dr. Secrist is held by District residents has been apparent in every board election in which he has been incumbent since his first three-year term in 1950. He was appointed then to fill out the term of Peter Howell.

In 1961, he was awarded two outstanding honors. The American Medical Association gave him its first Community Service Award, and a plaque for "outstanding contribution to the people of Arizona and the public schools of the state," was presented to him by the Arizona School Board Association and the School Administrators Association. In 1958 he was presented a life membership in the Arizona Congress of Parents and Teachers.

Two other additions were made to the physical plant of District 1 during the 1960-67 period. The two-floor addition to the Health Building at Education Center to house part of the financial complex has been reported earlier. The addition was completed in June, 1967.

The second addition was Covert School, operated for emotionally disturbed children in rented quarters at 1939 E. Speedway in the 1966-67 school year. Beginning in the fall of 1967, Covert School will be operated in a new, six-room building at 2700 S. Eighth Avenue, near the Arizona Children's Home. The Children's Home built the building, which will be known as the Nellie P. Covert School. The School District will rent the building from the Children's Home, using federal funds. James D. Vogler is coordinator of the Covert project.

A brief history of the Special Education activities of District 1 has been recounted in preceding pages. Miss Nellie Penelope Covert, a Tucson resident before her death, had willed to the Arizona Children's Home Trust Fund $100,000 to be used for kindergartens. In 1962-63, it was decided to use the interest from the money to operate Covert School for emotionally disturbed children. Classes were held at the Arizona Children's Home until the fall of 1966, when the rented quarters on Speedway were obtained.

Involved in the project, aided by federal funds, were local school districts, Diocese Schools, the Tucson Child Guidance Clinic and the Arizona Children's Home.

Past School Boards have provided a small reservoir of names for schools.

These include Dunham, Warren, Reynolds, Lyons, Collier, Fruchthendler, Van Horne and Ford Schools. These, by School Board action, are named in honor of former Board members Mrs. Nan E. Lyons and Jacob C. Fruchthendler, and for former teachers Alice F. Dunham, Frances J. Warren, Kate B. Reynolds, L. Marguerite Collier, James D. Van Horne and Inez C. Ford.

Among educational advances in Tucson District 1 during the 1960-67 period were the following:

--For the first time, professionally trained librarians were assigned to the elementary schools. Two traveling librarians were assigned to 10 elementary schools in the fall of 1960. There were 14 visiting librarians in 1966-67.

--Educational television for Tucson Public Schools classrooms was launched over KUAT-TV, Channel 6, at the University of Arizona during the 1960-61 school year. The "Know Your Schools" television program, designed to acquaint the public with District 1 activities, began in September, 1958.

--When Palo Verde High School was built, it was equipped for closed-circuit television which is now in operation. Classes in television production are offered at the school and the circuit can be used for classroom instruction.

--A Citizens Committee, headed by Larry Sierk, recommended in March, 1961, a five-term per year school plan which would provide year-round use of the school buildings. The project was not adopted. As mentioned earlier, parents opposed the idea. The Tucson Public Schools News took a poll in the spring of 1961 showing 2,768 parents opposed, 294 in favor and 48 undecided.

--On December 18, 1962, an experimental program designed to help prevent juvenile delinquency was put into effect by the District 1 School Board and the Tucson Police Department. This was the program now known as the School Resource Officer (SRO) program, which in the past five and one-half years has grown from one officer to seven in 1966-67. Officers operate out of Fickett, Mansfeld, Naylor, Safford, Utterback and Vail Junior High Schools. They also serve the elementary schools feeding into these junior high schools. The seventh SRO officer, during 1966-67, did not operate out of a junior high, but he did serve the elementary schools which feed into Spring Junior High.

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