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History of Tonkawa Public Schools

January 1, 1891 Martha Brewer, wife of Tonkawa Indian Agent Garrett Brewer, was appointed teacher and opened a day school for Indian children.  In 1894, Miss Helen Leonard began a subscription school.  The building had a dirt floor and seats and benches.  In 1895, the first schoolhouse was built on West Grand and students attended school there in November of 1895.  This building was difficult to heat and keep at comfortable temperatures for the students during the winter months, so in 1896 the citizens of Tonkawa raised money to construct a two-story frame schoolhouse on North 7th Street.  This schoolhouse consisted of only two rooms and was not big enough to hold all the students.  In 1906, a two-story addition to the small schoolhouse was added.  In 1910, Central Elementary; a two-story red brick schoolhouse was built for $21,973.  It had a basement, ten classrooms, three teacher's rooms, and drinking fountains.  The basement contained a steam heating plant, toilets, and storage.  Until 1921, high school students attended a preparatory school, but in that year a high school addition was built on to the existing school.

The oil boom caused severe overcrowding so in 1925, Washington school was opened.  Lincoln school was built in 1949 for $80,194.  Because of the dangerous railroad tracks, the elementary school was divided into two schools, Lincoln, and Washington, one on each side of town.

In 1956, a citizens committee began studying building needs for the Tonkawa School District.  In 1957, plans to build a new junior and senior high school were made.  The class of 1959 was the first class to graduate from the new school.  This building housed the high school students for more than thirty years.

In the 1980's, it was decided to combine the two elementary schools which both needed extensive renovation.  In 1988, the elementary schools were moved to the new $925,000 facility on North Public.  Since that time a library, media center, and cafetorium have been added to the grade school and four classrooms and a computer lab were added for the middle school.

On December 10, 2002 the Tonkawa School District patrons went to the polls to decide a bond issue concerning improvements of school facilities.  The bond issue passed by an overwhelming margin of 582 yes to 70 no.  The bond issue called for the sale of bonds in three phases two years apart.  The first sale was $1.16 million in 2003 with subsequent sales of $450,000 and $660,000 in 2005 and 2007 making the total of $2,270,000.  The first phase of the project which consisted of the construction of ten middle school classrooms, a safe room, a library, commons and a principal's office began in the 2004-2005 school year.  Phase two consisted of finishing the library, commons and principal's office and remodeling the north wing of the existing building.  The third phase of the bond issue funded the construction of a science lab, family and consumer science lab and superintendent's office and demolition of the south wing of the old high school for parking space.  In conjunction with the bond issue, $500,000 in FEMA grands was attained for construction of safe rooms at the elementary and middle/high school sites and $500,000 in Qualified Zone Academy Bonds was attained for replacing HVAC and installing pitched standing seam steel roof on the existing buildings.  The new and remodeled facilities were fully operational in the 2008-2009 school year.


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