mid-1800s - The history of education in Springdale begins when pioneer Jo Holcomb brings J.C. Floyd into his home to teach a group of children (taken from "Springdale," by Velda Brotherton)
1868 - The town rebuilds the Shiloh church after the Civil War which served as church and school
1873 - Springdale Baptist Missionary College started for grammar students through 1st-year high school 2-story brick building constructed on-site of current Historic Springdale High School (40 pupils paid $2.50 / month tuition)
1884 - Springdale District officially organized
1885 - Building sold to Lutherans who used the upstairs for church and downstairs for school
1892 - Springdale District rents lower rooms of school/church building for classrooms
1895 - School building purchased for $2,500.00 by Springdale College Co. for a private high school
1898 - Josiah H. Shinn acquired The Building and reorganized the curriculum
1901 - Millard Berry acquired the school building through foreclosure with this stipulation: if ever the land ceased to be used for school purposes, the land reverts to Berry Hiers and the first Springdale High School was formed
1902 - First graduating class - 9 members
1910 - Old structure was torn down and the current brick building was built 1922 and the 1st yearbook "The Milestone" was published
1929 - New 3 story Jr./Sr. High built near current SHS site (demolished in 1998)
Mid-1930s - Springdale school district has more than 1,000 students
1947 - 1949 - State law passed requiring all schools be part of a district with a high school and 22 schools joined the Springdale school system including Steele, Spring Creek, Silent Grove, Tontitown, Brush Creek, Harmon, Zion, Accident, Hickory Creek, Sawyer, Fish Back, Sonora, Habberton, Oak Grove, Shady Grove, Bethel, Monitor, White Oak, Mt. Home
1961 - Major expansion of Springdale High School site, costing almost $900,000
Financial difficulties have often played Springdale’s efforts to offer educational opportunities to his children. By persisting through the early years, a great depression, consolidation and more recently the new state standards, the district has established a reputation of success.
The history of education in Springdale begins with Pioneer Joe Holcomb, who brought a teacher to the city at his expense. The instructor, J.C. Floyd, taught private lessons in the Holcomb home.
By 1873, a local church started the Springdale Baptist Missionary College. A two-story brick building was constructed on the site now occupied by Central Elementary schools on Thompson Street. Grammar and first-year high school courses were offered. The teachers were the Rev. Adams and the Rev. Barnes. The school failed financially and was sold to the Lutheran Church in 1885. The Reverend I. E. Radar in the Rev. A. S. Bartholomew taught algebra, philosophy, and literature and religion, but the school again suffered financial losses and closed.
The education system was officially organized as Springdale District No. 50 on January 7, 1884, according to Washington county records.
The school building was purchased for $2500 in 1895 by the Springdale College Company. A private high school was established with Seaton E. Thompson as a teacher. Again, the community was unable to sustain the facility. Josiah H. Shinn, noted educator of the time, took over the property and set up a school for 7th and 8th grade, two years of high school and preparatory school. He employed four teachers who taught science, ancient and modern languages, music, vocal culture, reading, elocution, economics, good morals, and gentle manners. Over three years, the enrollment increased from 25 to 82. Unfortunately, Shinn’s school was not long-lived.
Through foreclosure, school board member Millard Berry got the property and created the first free high school. Helping him were school board members, Dr. Christian and W.B. Brogdon. Two years after its opening, the school graduated five students.
Superintendents for the district were W.D. Gray in 1910, W.H. Banta 1911 - 1916, F.G. Robb 1916 - 1917, W.A. Erdman 1917 - 1918, and Rev. W.A. Piper 1918 - 1919.
By 1910, several changes had occurred. The school increased from a two to four-year high school program, from a seven to nine-month term, and from a two to three-member teaching staff. A tuition fee was charged so a new building to be constructed (now Central Elementary South). Athletics was introduced into the curriculum. The forerunner of the Parent-Teacher Association, the School Improvement Association, was also established in 1910. In 1914, agriculture was incorporated into the course offerings.
School district records show that Central Elementary South was built in 1912 and used as a high school until 1928 when it was transformed into a grade school. It featured eight classrooms and an auditorium in the two-story structure.
T.P. Woods took over the position of superintendent in 1919 for an eight-year term. During that time, the 18-mill school tax was approved by voters. Money generated by that tax provided funds for a home for the superintendent. “The Milestone, the first known yearbook, made its debut in 1922.
In 1923, Washington Elementary was erected on Emma Avenue. It contained students in the first through eighth grades. It was temporarily used as a junior/senior high school. Five years later, a new secondary structure was constructed in 1928 on the west end of West Emma Avenue between South Pleasant and Kansas streets. Today, it is referred to as the three-story building on the north campus of Springdale High.
Several firsts appeared in the latter half of the ‘20s, including the school paper, The Bulldog, the high school band, and reorganization of the school library.
Money was critical during the Great Depression, especially for the school system, but the school district continues to hold fast. Tuition had been charged until the mid-'30s and Superintendent J.A. Trice saw the need to refinance several bond issues. Through a bequest by C.G. Dodson, a home economics cottage was built in 1931. It is now the special education building on the north campus.
There were more than 1000 students enrolled in the district’s three buildings, Springdale High, Washington and Central (south) elementary schools.
The North Central Elementary was built in 1948.
The office of county superintendent was suspended and the county Board of Education dissolved. The county court administered the schools until the board was reinstated in 1941.
Early state legislation requires that those school districts in session for less than six months and/or having an enrollment of fewer than 15 people should be dissolved. Later, more stringent laws required schools with less than 30 students to discontinue. The county Board of Education had been in power to annex district to a contiguous district.
This action, several wing schools surrounding the Springdale district to be incorporated into the service area. From 1946 to 1948, the following wing schools were abandoned and absorbed by Springdale: Elm Springs, Stony Point, Peaceful Valley, Steele, Spring Creek, Silent Grove, Tontitown, Brush Creek, Harmon, Zion, Accident, Hickory Creek, Sawyer, Fishback, Sonora, Habberton, Oak Grove, Shady Grove, Bethel, Monitor, White Oak, and Mountain Home.
Many rural communities fought consolidation. In fact, there is one report of a man who brought his gun to a meeting considering the issue. By 1949, only 66 of 171 state school district remained intact
Up to this time, the superintendents serving Springdale were Garland Stubblefield 1927 - 32, J.A Trice 1933 - 42, W.R. Yeubanks 1942 - 44, and J.O. Kelly 1944 - 63
The Springdale district launched an expansion program that provides for its increased student population. A home was donated in 1940 to the system and converted to a school known as Jefferson Elementary for first and second-grade students. Since 1967 at his house the Springdale Headstart Center near the airport. Robert E Lee Elementary was constructed in 1951.
In 1952, and one-story building (commonly referred to as the flat building) was constructed next to the three-story structure on the north campus of the high school. It was used as the new high school.
Because funds are still lacking, school board president Harvey Jones enlisted the aid of the government. He and several community members persuaded Senator William Fulbright to intercede on behalf of the District for 12.4 acres, an unused portion of the Springdale migrant labor center, located on the east side of the community. The site was to be used for Jones Elementary school on Powell Street which would have 12 classrooms for 350 wing school students. In the school district files is a letter from Pat Henry to the senator. He said he visited 13 wing schools and became “aware of the desperate need for more classrooms in order to bring these rural children into a warm, clean, and well-lighted building.”
With a token payment of $310, the groundbreaking started. The original building was completed in 1959.
The school administration, concerned about student safety near the airport, asked Walter C. Croft of the Springdale Flying Club to investigate the matter. Craft wrote to the Civil Aeronautics Board and found that there was little risk involved.
The district moved its administrative offices to the US Post Office building at 202 West Emma in 1965. That building was donated to the district at the end of a 20-year contract.
Other schools completed during that decade were Westwood Elementary in 1959, Springdale High School (south campus) 1961, Elmdale Elementary 1965, Southwest Junior High 1967.
When the two-story high school, or main building, was completed, the flat building became Central Junior High School. On January 14, 1971 would-be burglar set the building on fire while trying to gain entry into the office safe. In the Springdale News article, fire chief Mickey Jackson describe the blaze. “The central portion of the building was completely enveloped in flames when firemen arrived with three pumps and the snorkel. After beating down the flames around the building entryway and offices, where the fire had already broken through the roof, firemen spent two hours battling flames that spread into the attic and fed on the tar-covered roof.
Police noted that the cafeteria, maintenance, and industrial art shops were entered and ransacked. There were several other burglaries reported that night in the vicinity.
Superintendent T.G. Smith (1963 to 1982) and the school board made temporary arrangements for makeshift classrooms, using the junior high cafeteria, field house, gym and empty classrooms in the three-story building. A reward of $500 was offered by the board for information that would lead to the conviction of the burglars.
The damage was estimated at $265,000 for the building and about $35,000 for equipment and materials. The insurance coverage paid for part of rebuilding the structure, in the original design at the same site.
In 1972, Central junior high was built at a new location on Huntsville Road, and the flat building reverted to the high school eventually housing the social studies program
Over the next 10 years, the district at John Tyson Elementary in 1973, T.G. Smith and Parson Hills Elementary schools in 1982. The newest addition to the system, Walker Elementary, will be completed by the fall session in 1987. It will house students from an overcrowded Tyson Elementary School and Tontitown Elementary which will be closed due to cost inefficiency and duplication of services.
Most of the schools have been altered by additions and others have been close to accommodate population shifts. Washington Elementary was closed in 1982 and is now primarily used to house specially funded programs including nursing and gifted education. Central Elementary south was closed in 1983. The North Central building is being used by the Northwest Arkansas Education Service Co-operative. The district closed the three-story math building for safety reasons and replaced it with a new structure on the south campus.
With new federal and state regulations regarding education, the district has added programs for the mentally and physically disabled as well as gifted children. It has changed his policies regarding disciplinary hearings making them private, rather than public, meetings.
The quality education act of 1983 provides a minimum set of standards and goal-setting, curriculum guides, instruction, attendance and performance by which each state school will provide basic education. The deadline for meeting the standard it’s June 1, 1987. Because of several state funding cutbacks, Springdale Schools is facing another financial crisis. However, Superintendent Jim Rollins (1982 to the present) and his administrative staff formulated a plan of action to deal with a reduced budget and enable the district to be in compliance.
The district is currently participating in a three-year experimental model in which high school students are responsible for their own learning. The model, called School Within a School, requires teachers to act as coaches and show how all knowledge is related. It is funded through a Rockefeller Foundation grant. SHS has received national attention from its effort to reach the students who have fallen through the education system’s cracks.
The Springdale public school system has been traced back to its beginning as classes held in a log-cabin schoolhouse. The ensuing succession of teachers and various sites for classroom facilities evolved into an educational partnership that was formally organized as “Springdale School District No. 50" on January 7, 1884. Since that time the school district has enjoyed continued growth in both enrollment and instructional scope.
The district's most significant expansion came as a consequence of a 1947 law that required that each public school be aligned, with a high school. Over the next two years, many small schools in the area which had been separately operated requested association with the Springdale School District because of its high school curriculum. By 1949 a total of twenty-two of those ”wing schools” had been consolidated into Springdale's system, which offered both elementary and secondary instruction. As their students were able to be accommodated by one of the school district's main facilities, the wing schools were closed. Tontitown Elementary School, scheduled to be closed at the end of the 1986-87 school year, was the last such "wing school" operated by the district.
By 1987 the Springdale public schools constituted the sixth-largest school district in the state of Arkansas. The system had eight elementary schools, two junior high schools, including one with the largest enrollment of any junior high school in the state, and one high school that has the third-largest enrollment of any high school in the state. The total student population enrolled in the district’s schools for the 1986—87 school year was more than 7,000 students.
In addition to physical growth, the district has compiled a record of many outstanding student and teacher accomplishments. Springdale students are respected and formidable competitors in academics, activities, and athletics, having won regional, state and national honors in various endeavors.
The instructional spectrum at Springdale includes special education classes for students with learning disabilities, gifted/talented education on both elementary and secondary levels, art classes, vocational instruction, and newsmaking innovative programs such as the ”School Within a School” at Springdale High School and the ”Write to Read" program for kindergarten students. Springdale has a model physical education program for elementary students and offers at the secondary level such sports as football, basketball, track, tennis, golf, and gymnastics. Included in the many other activities available at the secondary level are marching bands and choral groups.
Springdale's earliest school is believed to have been a private one held in the home of Joe Holcomb who had brought a teacher, J.C. Floyd, to the community at an early date. A little log building that stood near the present site of the I.0.0.F. Building later served as the schoolhouse.
The property where Central South School building now stands was purchased by John Holcomb on July 10, 1848, from the United States of America. Rev. Bennett Putman purchased the property on January 8, 1870, from William and Rebecca Holcomb for $800. The Shiloh Baptist College was built on the ten acres of land in 1871. The two-story brick structure was erected with brick made near the site by E.T. Caudle. The institution was called the Missionary Baptist College, but the name was misleading, for the work done at the school was what would now be called grammar school and first-year high school work. The teachers were the Rev. Barnes and Rev. Adams.
The school was financed by the Bentonville Baptist Association which consisted of thirty area churches. The present First Baptist Church (Liberty) and the Friendship Church were members of this association. The school was slightly to the north of the present Central School on Johnson Street. Lefler & Haney contracted the brick labor for $1,800, and Mayes and Son did the carpenter work for $1,900. The first term was December of 1871, with attendance of forty pupils. The teachers were Rev. L. R. Barnes, principal; J. R. Adams, assistant principal; and Issac Reed. The three taught classes throughout the ninth grade. G.A. Vaught became principal in 1878 with an enrollment of 80 students. Subjects taught were spelling, reading, geography, grammar, arithmetic, penmanship, algebra, philosophy, rhetoric, and English analysis, with grading on deportment. Unable to make a financial go of the project, the Baptists in 1885 sold the building and four-acre lot to the Salem Er. Lutherans congregation under the leadership of Rev. I.E. Radar. The upstairs of the building was used for services, and the two rooms downstairs were where Rev. Radar and Rev. Bartholomew taught such subjects as were offered. These included algebra, philosophy, literature, and religion. The lower rooms were rented in 1892 to the Springdale School District #50 to be used for parochial private high school classes.
In 1895 the building was sold for $2,500 to a stockholding company formed by concerned citizens of Springdale, of which Millard Berry was president and C. C. Phillips was secretary. The stock company employed Seaton E. Thompson as a teacher at what was referred to as Springdale College. He taught a private high school for two years. One local man who attended the school for one year was W.G. Howard. The Stockholding Company obtained a loan of $1000 from C. O. Nickerson at 10 percent per annum in 1896.
Perhaps the era most often referred to today in the early history of Springdale Schools is the period when Josiah H. Shinn played an important part in the local educational and cultural life. A native of Russellville, Shinn had taught in Ohio, Illinois, and Kentucky and was a noted authority on Russia, where he had lived and spent some time in research. He was an educator, author, historian and former state superintendent of public instruction.
Shinn acquired the school building and campus in 1898 from the Springdale College Company by purchase and gift and set out to raise money with which to equip a first-class school. He, too, ran into financial obstacles though, and in 1901 he gave up the project. Miss Bertie Smyer attended the school under Shinn.
Shinn's school included the seventh and eighth grades, two years of high school and a preparatory school for college. It was attended not only by boys and girls but by some local citizens who were older than their teachers. Most of the classes were held upstairs in the one large room, while other classes were taught in the two rooms downstairs. There were four teachers: H.F. Smith, who taught modern languages and music; Mrs. Lee Sanders, who taught vocal culture, reading and elocution and Mr. Shinn who taught the remaining subjects including a teacher training course.
Later, in 1900, the teachers included Shinn, Smith, Miss Loula Matthews, Miss C.S. Stone, and Mrs. Shinn. The latter taught household economics, good morals, and gentle manners. Enrollment increased from 25 in 1898 to 80 in 1899, on to 82 in 1900-1901.
Financial obligations continued to be a part of the school's history. After Shinn's departure in 1899, the stock holding company defaulted on payment to C. O. Nickerson. The courts appointed W.H. Rollins Commissioner to execute the sale of the property to the highest bidder on November 13, 1901. Judge Millard Berry in 1901 assumed the notes of the stockholders and gave the school and land to School District No. 50 with the stipulation: if ever the land ceased to be used for school purposes, the land reverts to Berry Hiers. Through the interest of Berry and other school board members, including Dr. Christian and W.B. Brogdon, Springdale's first free high school was opened in the fall of 1901 in the same building that stood where Central School now stands.
The high school in 1903 had only five graduates, but the first graduating class the year before had nine members. In 1904, there was only one graduate. In 1905 the alumni association was organized with Mrs. Gregg as the first president.
By the end of the first decade of the twentieth century, the City of Springdale decided to build a new school building to accommodate the influx of new students. The site of the old school building was selected as the site for the new high school, with the old building to be demolished to make way for the new. By the early fall of 1909, the school board selected the proposed design of Rogers architect A.O. Clark, a published description of which included virtually all of the features found in the structure as built, the only exception being the fact that the main entrance was originally planned to be on the eastern facade; it is now found on the southern facade. Clark's plans included the construction of an auditorium, a basement for the installation of the furnace, and separate entrances on the sides of the building for the boys and girls; all of these survived in the final design. As originally designed, Clark submitted an estimated cost of $12,000.
After the acceptance of bids was complete, the school board awarded the construction contract to Halter Bros. of Conway, Arkansas, who submitted the winning bid of $12,414.(Halter Bros. was known for its work on, among other projects, the Logan County Courthouse in Paris, Arkansas, and the Baptist Church in Conway.) The schedule called for the principal construction to be completed by April of 1910 so that the building could be appropriately outfitted over the summer and ready for the opening of classes the next fall. By all accounts, it appears as if the building was ready at the scheduled time. At first, only two years of high school work were offered, and the term was seven months. When the high school moved to its new quarters in 1910, the number of teachers was increased from two to three, the school term.was lengthened to nine months, a full four-year course was offered, and athletics was introduced into the school system. It was in 1910, too, that the School Improvement Association was organized. It continued to function until it was replaced in 1926 by the Parent-Teacher Association. Central South served as the Springdale High School through 1927, becoming a grade school in 1928. The building was closed forever in 1982 when the district opened Smith and Parson Hills Elementary Schools. The building continues to be used as a warehouse for school equipment.
Springdale’s new high school building is one of the best in the state, and is a credit to the community, costing something like $14,000 to complete. A very good idea of the building can be had from the illustration shown above. It consists of two stories and a basement, and it’s constructed of pressed brick and stone, and covered with asbestos shingles. On the first floor is the study hall, 42x48 feet, with an elevated floor and 25-foot ceilings. The study hall has windows on three sides, and with the high ceiling, it gives splendid light and ventilation. The study hall accommodates 175 students. The building fronts to the south and there is a 10-foot hall running from the south entrance to the study hall.
There is also an entrance to the east side and on the west side, with a 12-foot hall running through the building. From this hall, two four-foot stairways lead to the upper part of the building and also two to the basement. On the first floor are two classrooms, 18 x 18’ and two cloakrooms, 16 x 18’, one for the boys and one for the girls. On the second floor are three classrooms, 18 x 18’, a library 14 x 16’, and the principal's office, 14 x 16’.
The building throughout is heated by steam. About 12 carloads of brick were used in the construction of the building, several cars of Carthage cut stone, and four or five cars of lumber. The building was constructed by Halter Bros. of Conway.
The building was completed in the latter part of August and is now being used for the first time. The school has an enrollment of 156, and there are four teachers, as follows: principal, W.J. Peterson, with J. Elmer Garrett, Miss Sophia walker, and Mill Ollie Reed as assistants. That the school ranks high is evidenced by the fact that students graduating here are admitted to the collegiate Department of the University of Arkansas, and all other universities and colleges of the south, without examination. The school also has a record in athletics, the girls' basketball team of 1909 having won the state championship.