Fort Stockton Independent School District is celebrating its hundredth year as an official school district this year, and it has quite a story to tell.
Prior to FSISD being established, all schools in Fort Stockton were a part of the Common School District No. 1 of Pecos County.
The Fort Stockton Pioneer reported the opening of school in 1917 on Sept. 14 by publishing a letter from the superintendent, C. V. Compton.
At that time, a whole program was scheduled on Monday, Sept. 17 for the opening of Fort Stockton Public Schools’ session (see Picture 1 on page ). The program consisted of an invocation by Reverend M. O. Williams, an address by County Superintendent Howell Johnson, and violin solo performed by Evelyn Livingston. Mayor Rooney spoke on Fort Stockton and its schools during the program, and more music and speeches. The students would then return to their classrooms to receive a list with the books and supplies they would need for the upcoming school year.
The establishment of the district came the same year, with the passing of General and Special Laws for the state of Texas during their 35 Legislature. The session adjourned on May 17, 1917, and effectively changed Fort Stockton’s public school system to the district that Fort Stockton knows today.
The law creating FSISD was approved on May 17 of 1917, and took effect 90 days later.
According to the law, FSISD was vested with all the rights, powers, privileges, and duties of all Texas towns at the time.
The law also stated, “The management and control of the public free schools within said Fort Stockton Independent School District is hereby vested in a board of trustees, which board shall be composed of seven persons, resident citizens, and qualified voters within said district.”
Howell Johnson, the Pecos County judge at the time, was chosen by law to appoint the seven board members. Following this appointment, the board of trustees would be comprised of officials elected by the public each year during regular election.
The board of trustees was given the right to provide for the levying of a tax within FSISD to pay the interest on bonds previously taken out as a public school system.
According to the law, “Said board is hereby fully authorized and empowered to do anything necessary for the protection and payment of any indebtedness…”
The law stipulated that the board of trustees was required to organize themselves by electing a president, secretary, and other officers necessary. The board was also required to save the minutes of each meeting.
On Oct. 5, 1917, the Fort Stockton Pioneer officially reported the change from the Fort Stockton Common School District to FSISD (see Picture 2 on page ).
According to the article entitled “Independent School District Perfected,” Superintendent Howell Johnson appointed seven individuals to the board of trustees for FSISD. The Pioneer stated that Johnson chose the members based on Fort Stockton’s educational interest, and that all but one of the members held positions in the prior Board of Education.
The first meeting of the board of trustees, labelled an “organizational meeting”, was held on Oct. 12, 1917 at 8 p.m.
Judge Johnson chose to appoint H. H. Butz, H. C. Petty, John Odom, W. P. Rooney, F. S. Mills, F. S. Wilson, and Waldo Williams to the board. Prior to the board meeting, each of the members presented their qualifications and took an oath of office.
During the meeting, Butz was elected President, Williams was elected Secretary, and Odom was elected temporary Chairman. The board also voted that they would meet every last Friday of the month.
Tuition was voted upon at that time, where primary department tuition was $1.50 per school month, grammar grades $2.50 per school month, and high school grades at $3.50 per school month. Additionally, it was approved that a driver should fix his cars in a manner that the school children wouldn’t fall out while travelling to school, and that they should not be allowed to ride on the running boards or fenders of the cars.
As can be expected, the goings-on of the FSISD have changed quite a bit in the last hundred years. The school board no longer deals with worries like children falling out of cars, but instead compares buses for purchase; buses that would have been nothing but a crazy dream in 1917 due to all of their gadgets and safety features. The board also doesn’t have a need to discuss any sort of tuition for Fort Stockton’s current schools.
However, the FSISD School Board still shares some similarities with the board of 1917. The board continues to manage personnel, organize their offices, and is still made up of elected officials. Each member enters the board in the same manner as those appointed in 1917, promising to uphold the best interests of FSISD and the students within it.
Paula Traynham, the current Assistant Superintendent, discussed the changes that were made when FSISD was created.
“School districts were already schools back in the 1900s,” Traynham said. “But it wasn’t until that push to make them a school district that was independent.”
Traynham explained that though there weren’t districts in place, there were still a number of schools open.
“Before that, you had all those country schools,” Traynham said. “Schools were everywhere because you didn’t have to follow the process of being an ISD. There were different regional schools, depending on where you lived.”
Now, most (if not all) ISDs have been fully established with schools to cater to each age group as needed. FSISD is a well-organized system now, 100 years older and wiser.
This school year, FSISD has started off strong by holding their regular events, including New Teacher Orientation, Meet the Teacher nights, and the annual FSISD Family Social.
Traynham expressed that though no single celebration has been planned for FSISD’s centennial, each event during this school year will revolve around that theme.
“Right now, we are just debuting the Centennial and trying to get the word out,” Traynham said. “I do see us entwining it in all the activities throughout the year. Maybe something along the lines of a special coin flip at a football game. We also have the Veteran’s Day ceremony that is done every year. We could make it so the topic may be not just about the general population of veterans, but also specifically the veterans of Fort Stockton who have been a part of FSISD. The public will see the Centennial embedded in each event of the year, and of course it is always open for us to decide on a celebration later this semester.”
Traynham reflected on how important she felt it was to inform the citizens of Fort Stockton about FSISD’s Centennial.
“Our little speck of existence allows us to be part of this celebration,” Traynham said. “It is so special that we’re a part of this time.”
As the school year progresses, FSISD’s Centennial will continue to be celebrated as a feat of not only endurance, but also as a reflection of the hard work and dedication of all those who have had a hand in bringing on the success of the district.
Happy hundredth to the Fort Stockton Independent School District!