Public Schools of Fresno County 1860 - 1898, Volume One, with pictures from Fresno County Library
Sanger Unified School District
Sanger Unified was established on November 17, 1964, effective July 1, 1965. On that date, Sanger Union joined with Fairmont Union, Centerville Union, and Lone Star Union to create the Sanger Unified School District. SUSD annexed Del Rey Union the next year, on July 1, 1966.
The Bethel School District was organized May 15, 1879. A structure was built at the corner of Bethel and Central Avenues. The first trustees were R. G. Harwell, James Neely, and J. R. Baird. It operated until 1949 when it joined the Sanger Union Elementary District. In its last year of operation the average daily attendance was seventy-nine.
It was organized December 14, 1869, taking it's name from the Centerville community located near the Kings River on present day Kings Canyon Road. A succession of four schoolhouses were constructed in the area of Oliver and Rainbow avenues. The first Fresno County Teachers Institute was held at the Centerville schoolhouse on December 7 - 9 of 1870. Thirteen teachers heard lectures on electricity, penmanship, and methods of teaching grammar and geography. In 1877 Centerville annexed the Scottsburg District. Before becoming part of Sanger Unified in 1965, Centerville absorbed 7 smaller school districts. New classrooms were added in 1960. In 1965 Centerville discontinued as a separate district when it became part of Sanger Unified School District.
Del Rey Union
In 1950 Prairie School, at Jefferson and Morro Streets in Del Rey, joined with Rosedale to form the new Del Rey Union School. With the closing of Rosedale, 60 students were added to the school site. The first trustees were A. M. Nielson, Jess Hayes, John Camino, Ferdinand Kinzel and Fred Nielson. Iver Madsen, the former principal of Prairie School, was the first principal. Immediately after unification the school added 4 new classrooms, a kindergarten and a bus garage. Two busses were purchased to help keep children and bicycles off the road. In 1957 a bond issue passed and a 200 capacity cafeteria and modern kitchen were built. Over 100 students were served breakfast and 300 were served lunch in three shifts daily. By 1962 Del Rey Union had 16 classrooms and an enrollment of over 500. In 1966 Del Rey Union voted to become part of Sanger Unified School District.
The DeWolf School District, formed in 1911, was carved from portions of Lone Star, Highland, Prairie, and Horace Mann districts in an area between Sanger and Fowler. The first trustees were P. L. Howard, W. L. Kennedy, and W. A. Collins. Lillian Christiansen was the first teacher. A two room building was located on the northeast corner of DeWolf and Central avenues. For three years teacher Isaphrene Elder rode the train each day to a railroad stop then walked a mile and a half to the school. In 1947 DeWolf joined with Lone Star to form the Lone Star Union School District. While Lone Star sent its graduates to Sanger High School, DeWolf’s graduates attended Fowler High School. By order of the Fresno County Board of Supervisors, when Lone Star united with Sanger High School in 1956, the non affiliated DeWolf portion of Lone Star Union was annexed to the Fowler District.
The Eureka District was formed in 1886. The schoolhouse was built on Watts Valley Road. Ibra Chapman was the first teacher and W. H. Qualls was the clerk of the board. The district was annexed to Round Mountain in 1904.
Fairmont Union District
In 1947 Fairmont Union District was formed by combining the Fairview, Gray Colony, and Round Mountain Districts. The first trustees were Finis Shepherd, Frank O’Hara, Clair Pollard, and Earnest Jensen. Hazel Sherwood was appointed principal. The school was built on a twelve acre campus at the northwest corner of Greenwood and Shields Avenues. Two buildings with eight classrooms and administration offices were built at a cost of $145,000. Between 1956 and 1961 two classrooms, a kindergarten, multiuse room, and kitchen were added. In 1965 Fairmont Union was one of the founding districts of Sanger Unified School District and was renamed Fairmont Elementary. Classrooms and a library were added in 1976.
Fairview Georgia District
The Fairview District was established in 1873 when the Georgiaville District was renamed Fairview. No boundary changes were made. No record of the first school building could be found. A second building was erected in 1908 on the north side of McKinley Avenue next to the Fairview Cemetery about a mile west of Academy Avenue. In 1946-1947 the average daily attendance was ninety-six.
The Fancher District was organized in 1867 in the foothills northeast of Fresno. The School was located at Watts Valley and Pittman Hill roads. No information could be founded about the early particulars. A January 1889 Fresno Weekly Expositor describes the school as a comfortable building with “commodious desks capable of seating some forty odd pupils.” In 1904 the average attendance was only nine students. The district lapsed in 1914 and was annexed by Round Mountain and Dry Creek.
The Frankwood District was organized in 1890 and a school built on what is now Highway 180 east of the Kings River. Its name was derived from large land owners, the Frankenau brothers and R. M. Woods, who contributed land and money for the school. Caddie Boynton, the first teacher, had twelve students in grades one through eight. The first trustees were M. M. Jacks, J. J. Street, and Homer A. Hadsill. With attendance at 61, the one room schoolhouse was replaced in 1921 with an L-shaped red brick structure with 2 wings. In 1958 voters approved joining their district with Centerville. The site and building has changed hands several times after being sold.
Granville School District was formed in 1887 and a small building was erected near California and Indianola avenues. The school had a tank house, no running water, and an outhouse with two holes. Eucalyptus wood, grown on the property and coal were burned in a pot-bellied stove for heat in the winter. Elliot W. Lindsay, who later became Superintendent of Fresno County Schools, was the first teacher. As school population grew a new school was built at Kings Canyon and Indianola avenues in 1912. In the 1920’s Granville was the only elementary school in Fresno County with a 440 yard track. It closed after becoming a part of Sanger Unified School District in 1966. It’s school bell was donated to the Sanger Historical Society.
The Gray Colony District was organized in 1916 from portions of Red Banks, Fairview, Kutner, and round Mountain Districts. A two room schoolhouse was built in 1916 on the north side of Ashlan Avenue near Del Rey Avenue. F. E. Ward, W. O. Benadom, and L. M. Jensen were the first trustees. Roxie Byfield was the first teacher. Starting in 1921 all eight grades met in one room while the second room was used as living quarters for the teacher. In 1938 the school was refurbished at a cost of $88.13. In 1947 Gray Colony joined with Round Mountain and Fairview Districts to form Fairmont Union.
Warren G. Harding School, the third elementary school in Sanger, was constructed in 1922 at the intersection of Rawson and DeWitt Avenues. In 1956 much of the brick building was declared unsafe and demolished. The kindergarten room continued to be used for several years. Now it is used by the district as a teacher resource center.
The Hazelton District, the fourth organized in Fresno County, was organized in 1865. The district was named for William Hazelton, a pioneer cattleman who later developed orange groves in the Kings River area. The school was north of the Kings River near the headwaters of Holland Creek. A report by the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools in 1871 reports 54 children on the registry, a teacher’s salary of $60, and a facility value of $250. Enrollment declined and by 1877 the school was vacant when it was annexed by Centerville. In 1895 Hazelton was reorganized farther up the valley when the grandchildren of William Hazelton were ready for school. It operated until 1902 and was annexed by Centerville in 1904.
The Highland School was organized in 1902 and a school building was constructed on the southwest corner of Jensen and Highland avenues. The first trustees were Charles Preuss, W. E. Russell, and Herman Siering. Jennie Radley, the first teacher, was hired for eight months at sixty-five dollars per month. The original school building was expanded in 1908 and 1920. In 1947 – 1948, its last year of operation, average daily attendance was 80 students. In 1948 the district united with Lone Star.
Andrew Jackson School began construction in 1956 in northern Sanger on a nine acre site at Third Street and Hill Avenue. Initial construction consisted of five classrooms and an administration unit. Expansion came in 1964 to accommodate students from the closed Gracile School and again in 1976 for the closed Taft School.
Construction began on Thomas Jefferson Elementary in southeast Sanger in 1955. On the 11 acre site at Annadale and Tucker Avenues, was constructed eight classrooms, a kindergarten section, administrative offices, and a multipurpose room. Wings were added in 1961, 1963, and a cluster of four classrooms and an office complex were constructed in 1976.
John S. Wash Elementary
In 1961 thirteen acres of land were purchased in the Sunnyside area of south Fresno and a school of 8 classrooms and offices was built for $253,000. The school was named for a long time Lone Star teacher. It opened in the fall of 1962. New classrooms were added in 2004 and a multi-purpose room added in 2010.
In 1910 the Lindsay District was organized and a school building constructed on Belmont Avenue east of Academy. The school was named to honor Elliott W. Lindsay, first superintendent of the Sanger District and later superintendent of Fresno County Schools. The first trustees were George R. Short, Walter Butts, and Martin Hansen. Two acres were purchased for $135 and a bond issue financed the $2,448 construction cost. Lenore Johnson was the first teacher Additional buildings were added in 1919 and 1929. The Lindsay District was annexed to the Centerville District in 1949 and its main building moved to the Centerville site.
Named after Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Elementary is located on 10.5 acres at 1700 Fourteenth Street. The original buildings were constructed in 1948 with additions built in 1954 and 1956.
The first Lone Star school was built by farmers who volunteered the materials and labor to build the schoolhouse. This was in 1882 on the Frank DeWolf ranch near Clovis and North Avenues. In 1883 the Lone Star School District was formed and bonds were passed so a larger school could be constructed. Jolie Corlew (or Corler) was the first teacher and E. P. Hughes was clerk of the board. When Santa Fe Railroad laid track south from Calwa, a Station was built near Fowler and Jensen and the village of Lone Star grew up around it. In 1898 Lone Star School was relocated there. The school was rebuilt in 1914 and again in 1949. In 1958 two new wings were constructed. A second campus, named John S. Wash School was built in 1961 on East Lane Street in Fresno to house an increasing enrollment. In 1964 Lone Star Union joined with Fairmont Union, Centerville Union, Sanger, and Sanger Union High School districts to form the Sanger Unified School District.
James Madison elementary, located at 2324 Cherry Avenue, opened in 1959 with facilities for kindergarten through fourth grade.
The Oakhurst District was formed in 1911 and a schoolhouse was built in 1912 on Tivy Vally Road. It remained a one room, one teacher school for most of its years of operation. In 1944 it joined with the Piedra District and formed the Tivy Union District.
Orangedale, organized in 1914, was built on the west side of the Kings River along Piedra Road. The first trustees were Herman F. Heizman, Walter Uridge, and Dr. J. S. Ward. Anna Gayton was the first teacher. A barn was at the back of the schoolyard for students to stable their horses. The last year of operation was in 1945 and and in 1946 it joined with Centerville to form Centerville Union. The school bell was donated to the First Presbyterian Church in Sanger.
The Prairie School District was formed in 1881. Frank Dusy, an early school board member, purchased the school site construction bonds when no one else entered a bid. Other trustees were S. A. Tyler, O. C. Blaney, H. Hubbard and George Cobb. The first school building was completed the following year on the southwest corner of Washington (now American) and McCall avenues. C. C. Curlew was hired as the first teacher though did not complete the year and was replaced by C. P. Leet. In 1907 the school building was replaced by a larger, 4 room and small library, structure. In 1936 the Prairie District voted to move the school to a new location in the nearby community of Del Rey. A six classroom building with an auditorium was built by WPA labor. The American and McCall site was sold in 1940. The school bell was donated to the Pella Lutheran Church in Selma. Prairie was one of the first schools in the area with an organized Parent Teacher Association which started in 1936. It was due to the PTA that Prairie began a hot lunch program. Mothers of the PTA did all of the buying, cooking, and serving of the food. Prairie continued to operate until 1950.
Quail Lake Environmental Charter School
Quail Lake opened in in the fall of 2000. It is located on Ashland and Quail Lake Drive in the Quail Lake Planned Community. The school is a K – 8 school.
Ronald Reagan Elementary
Ronald Reagan Elementary opened in the fall of 2005 on Indianola Street north of Jensen in the western part of Sanger.
Round Mountain District
Named for a mountain east of Fresno, the Round Mountain District was formed August 4, 1873. The schoolhouse, built on Zediker between Ashlan and Shaw, was moved after a year to the east side of Fancher Creek just north of Shaw. An 1877 Fresno Weekly Expositor article described the school as a small, comfortable building with a capacity to accommodate thirty-five to forty students. The article also notes that the furniture was handmade. The building burned and was then rebuilt in 1884. Sometime before 1900 the building was moved to Ashlan and Madsen avenues. The Eureka District was annexed in 1904 and part of Fancher District added in 1914. Extensive remodeling was done because of increased enrollment. Indoor plumbing was installed in 1927 and the campus was expanded by 1 acre, to provide more playground space in 1934. In 1947 it joined with Fairview and Gray Colony Districts to form Fairmont Union District.
In 1892 the Rosedale District was established. The schoolhouse site was near the southeast corner of Greenwood and Lincoln avenues, south of Sanger. Two schools were erected at this location. The last year of operation was 1949 – 1950 when Rosedale joined Prairie School in 1950 to form Del Rey Union. The former school site was sold.
Sanger Academy Charter School
Sanger Academy Charter School opened in 2001. It took over the remodeled former junior high site at 2207 Ninth Street, Sanger next to Greenwood Park.
The Sanger School District was formed by the Fresno County Board of Supervisors in February 1889. During the following summer, the board of trustees of the newly formed district authorized the construction of a schoolhouse. The site chosen was in the western part of town at Seventh Street and Rawson Avenue. It was a two story building of Sanger made bricks. Seven classrooms and an administration office were contained in the building. J. W. Evans was the teacher and was paid eighty dollars a month. In 1891 about 120 students were enrolled and there were 3 teachers. The school’s name was changed to Taft in 1913. It was demolished in 1929.
Sanger High School
Sanger Union High School District was established July 27, 1899. Six elementary districts were in the initial high school district – Sanger, Granville, Bethel, Centerville, Rosedale, and Fairview. The first trustees were E. C. Southworth, Carl Rufert, C. S. Wilson, John Thompson, F. A. Berryhill, and J. F. Ballard. Sanger High School opened September 10, 1899 with twenty students. The town of Sanger was established ten years earlier. For 2 years classes were held in the lower level of the Sanger Opera house which was located on Kings Canyon Road. In 1901 the first Sanger High School was built on O Street at the current Washington Academic Middle School tennis courts. As the town grew a need for more room was needed for the growing student population. In 1914 a new brick high school was constructed around the corner on 10th street. Between 1919 and 1938 enrollment grew from 136 to 680. An auditorium as well as numerous classrooms were added at the schoolsite. The football stadium was completed in 1956. It was later named Tom Flores Stadium in honor of the Sanger High School graduate who went on to quarterback and become the head coach of the Oakland Raiders. In 1957 a new high school, designed to accommodate a thousand students, was dedicated on the 36 acre site. In 1961 voters passed a $975,000 bond issue which provided additional construction funds. On September 25, 1997 groundbreaking ceremonies where held at Bethel and Annadale avenues, the site of the new sixty acre Sanger High School Campus. The school was built to house 2400 students. Students began classes for semester 2 in January of 2000. A second gymnasium, pool, on site athletic facilities, and many portable classrooms have been added since the opening.
Scottsburg was one of three school districts established February 6, 1860, the first school districts in Fresno County. It was located in the community of Scottsburg which was on the south side of the Kings River at the ferry crossing used by the Butterfield Stage. In a June 1871 report of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, forty children were listed on the school register. Also one teacher was listed who was paid $90 a month and the schoolhouse, land, and furniture were valued at $300. Scottsburg was absorbed by Centerville District in 1877.
Sequoia, which opened in the fall of 2011, was built on Armstrong Avenue north of Jensen. Construction of housing tracts southeast of Fresno had impacted Lone Star and John Wash Schools.
In 1930 a second Taft School was built near the site of the first. It faced Seventh Street between Rawson and DeWitt. It was a one story brick building with 7 classrooms and a solid maple flooring. Each classroom had real slate blackboards. A classroom wing was added parallel to DeWitt Avenue in the later 1940’s. As the main building didn’t meet the safety of the Field Earthquake Act, it was demolished in 1976. Since 1991 the remaining wing of Taft has housed Taft High School.
The Oakhurst school house became the Tivy Union School in 1912. Minnie Rankine was the first teacher and Delbert Brunton served as clerk of the board. In 1950 the Army Corps of Engineers constructed a new building next to the existing school in 1950. The 3 room building was built for $50,000 and paid for with federal funds. The classrooms were needed for children of workers employed in the construction of Pin Flat Dam on the Kings River. Peak enrollment reached ninety during the dam’s construction. Tivy Union was annexed to the Centerville District in 1964 and the 1950 building was moved to the Centerville site.
Washington Junior High – WAMS
Built on 22 acres in 1955, the school is located at 2207 Ninth Street, Sanger next to Greenwood Park. The original school plant included twelve classrooms, a shop unit, home economics unit, administrative offices and a multiuse building. In 1957, four classrooms, a music room, and a kitchen were added. In 1995 it was renamed Washington Academic Middle School and the curriculum was changed to focus exclusively on accelerated academic programs. When Sanger High School moved to it’s new campus in 2001, the old site was extensively remodeled and became the home for the new Washington Academic Middle School.
Woodrow Wilson Elementary
The first Wilson School, at 610 Faller Avenue, was built in 1914. The first phase of the present Wilson School was constructed in 1952. In 1956 the eleven acre site was described as containing twelve classrooms, two kindergarten rooms, an administration unit, and a multipurpose preparation kitchen building. Additional classrooms were completed in 1986.