Fresno Unified School District has an elaborate history dating back to the 1800s. Elisha Cotton Winchell was the first Superintendent of the two Fresno County Schools in 1860. Fresno Senior High School was established in 1889, and the first principal was T.L. Heaton who also served as the first Superintendent of Fresno City Schools from 1889 to 1896.
Meanwhile, areas adjacent to Fresno were populated by a number of “farming colonies,” that created their own communities and schools. As the City of Fresno grew, the schools and districts were consolidated into the Fresno Unified School District.
The Wolters Colony, established in 1892, was annexed to the Fresno Unified School District on June 16, 1959. The Scandinavian School District, created by the Scandinavian Home Colony in 1879, annexed to the Fresno Unified School District in 1964. Other schools and school districts established during this period included Roeding District, which was created in 1898 and merged into the Fresno Unified School District in 1951, and Kirk School which was annexed to the Fresno Unified School District in 1980.
The Calwa School District was annexed to the Fresno Unified School District in 1947, causing the elementary and secondary districts of the Fresno City Schools, allowing the unification of the Fresno schools.
Columbia School is one of the oldest school sites in continuous operation in the district. The school housed the first kindergarten in Fresno. The site was first purchased for school use by the Fresno City Schools Board of Education in 1889 for $2,280. Lincoln, Lowell, Jefferson, and Jackson schools were also constructed between 1890 and 1914.
Due to the growing population of Fresno, bonds were successfully passed in 1914, 1919, and 1925. The bonds funded the construction of a considerable number of schools including the third and final location for Fresno High school, Edison High School, Roosevelt High School and Burroughs, Fremont, and Franklin elementary schools.
The Fig Garden area was first developed when a large tract of land was promoted by a group of capitalists in 1920, headed by J.C. Forkner. As the land was developed, a school was built for grades 1 through 8, which later became part of Fresno Unified School District.
Originally part of Teilman School District, Teilman School #2 was annexed to the Fresno Unified School District in 1931, and later the school’s name was changed to Jane Addams School.
Mayfair Elementary School is named for an area of Fresno which includes homes and businesses which developers called “Mayfair.” This school was one of the first schools built after World War II with funds derived from the 1945 bond issue.
The 1950s brought more growth to the area creating the need for additional schools to be built. To mark the 100th birthday of Fresno Unified School District, the Board of Education named a school under construction Centennial Elementary School in 1956, which opened in 1957-58. Easterby was annexed in 1965 to the Fresno Unified School District. The Bullard School District became part of Fresno Unified in 1958-59. Bullard TALENT served as a rural training school in the early 1920s through an agreement with the Fresno State Teachers College.
The history of the Fresno Unified School District is the story of consolidation over decades of growth. Today, the district serves more than 72,000 students and operates 66 elementary schools, 14 middle schools, 10 high schools, 6 alternative schools, and 3 special education schools.