Imperial Valley Residents Place A High Value On Education

(Holtville Tribune Article on Education by Carol Hann, Professor Emerita, Imperial Valley College)
The tradition of enthusiastic local support for Imperial County schools has a rich heritage. Approximately sixty-six school districts once covered the Imperial County region; many of them were established under the auspices of San Diego County when Imperial County was part of San Diego County. The San Diego County Board of Supervisors controlled schools in our region until 1907.
The San Diego County Supervisors approved a petition for the formation and construction of schools in the far eastern area of our desert region. This area was populated with miners and their  families and by the Quechans and Cocopahs. In April, 1891, San Diego County officials created the Laguna District in the sparsely populated area along the Colorado River. Approximately eleven children enrolled when the school was formed. The school closed at the end of the 1894-95 school year.
Another school was then formed near the Colorado River. In March, 1896, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors authorized the formation of the Hedges School District after families in the area petitioned for an official school to be formed. It is believed that of the eighty-one children who attended Hedges school, sixty-eight were from the Yuman tribe. The school was located between the eastern side of the sand dunes and the Cargo Muchacho Mountains, near the American Girl Mine.
A few weeks after establishing the  Hedges School District. San Diego County Supervisors approved the formation of Picacho School District. This school was approximately twenty miles northeast of Hedges and near the Colorado River. The children attending Hedges and Picacho schools were from families who worked the gold mines of the area. With the demise of mining, the school enrollment declined and the Hedges School District ceased operating in 1906 when it merged with the Picacho School District.
In 1901, more families started arriving in the Imperial Valley. These early settlers recognized their responsibility to provide financing for sound educational facilities for their children. In September, 1901, Mr. J. E. Carr of Nevada established the first recognized elementary school in Imperial Valley. Mr. Carr supervised the construction of the “ramada shade” school. This first school was built in what was then station: ten miles south of Imperial and five miles northwest of Calexico, near present-day Heber. A tent was erected next to the ramada to serve as Professor Carr’s housing accommodation.
Approximately fifty pupils attended this first school. Students came to school by burro, donkey, horse, or on foot; it is recorded that some students walked over eight miles to school.
After the enrollment growth of Mr. Carr’s school, there was a tremendous need for the establishment of more schools, and San Diego County Board of Supervisors were petitioned to develop a systematic organizational plan for the creation of more school districts in the area. During the 1901-03 school year, Hugh J. Baldwin, San Diego County School Superintendent, recommended the development of four more elementary schools in the Imperial Valley region.
Bonds were sold to raise money for school construction. Southern Pacific Railway agreed to purchase the bonds from districts that had been legally formed. In 1903 the first elementary school bond election in the Colorado Desert region was held, and the Imperial School District received overwhelming support or its $6,000 bond issue.
The Valley’s population grew, and in 1904 a second elementary school was formed west of Heber. That same year a tent-school was established in Calexico.
The Valley’s first high school was formed in Imperial in 1906 and was called Imperial Valley Union School. High school age students from throughout the valley attended this school. Dormitories were constructed for both students and faculty. Students who did not live on campus often rode mules, burros, or horses to school. Shelters were constructed to protect the animals.

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