District History

A brief summary of our history...

In July 1876, the small frontier town of Arlington was bursting with new residents. With the new railroad tracks that rang alongside Division Street, new residents began settling in the town. They sent their children to school at the nearby Johnson Station Masonic Lodge.

By 1901, the town’s 1,800 residents were eager to continue growing their town. The following year, the town voted to build a $12,000 brick school building at 316 W. Main St. where local students could learn. At the end of the first school year, a principal, assistant principal and six teachers were giving lessons to 365 students. The first principal, J.J. Johnston, was also the district’s first superintendent, followed by H. Tarpley in 1908. Five years later, John A. Kooken was hired for the position, which he held for the next 25 years.

By the 1920s, Arlington had installed drinking fountains in schools, electric lights and electric heaters. The district built Arlington High School in 1922 to accommodate the growing town’s population. There were only 11 grade levels at the time, and students were given less homework – they often finished their assignments in study hall. Arlington continued to grow through the Great Depression.

During World War II, the district accommodated war efforts just as the rest of the nation did. The War Time schedule began in the early 1940s, which meant the school day now started at 8:30 a.m. beginning in 1943. Teachers were drafted, and it was decided that students who entered the armed services after completing 75 percent of their course work were given full credit for their semester.

By the 1950s, the district had grown to 2,000 students. An additional 2,000 students entered the district every two years after that. By the ‘60s, the war on poverty was full-scale and early childhood programs were created, as well as programs focused on minority and economically disadvantaged children.

In the 1970s, a new movement began to change how the school building was structured. New teachers embraced students learning at their own place, and classrooms were often built without walls dividing them. The movement lost momentum in the early ‘80s when students began scoring low on standardized tests. However, on a positive note, the decade did provide the implementation of female athletics and extracurricular programs.

During the ‘90s, administrators and teachers struggled to keep up with the growing population, and the budget that accompanied it. The AISD regained the trust of residents, and new school construction was approved in the latter part of the decade.

For the next few years, the district focused on improving standardized test scores, making it the top goal in 2002.

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