History of the Loma Prieta Joint
Union Elementary School District
On December 7, 1949, the voters of four small
mountain school districts voted to create the Loma Prieta Joint
Union School District.1
The oldest school, established in 1863 or ‘64, was Summit School
serving Santa Clara County. In 1877, Burrell School was formed to
serve students living in Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. In
1878, Highland School was formed with students living in Santa Cruz
County. The last school, Hester Creek, was established in August
1906, because local voters decided that students had to walk too far
to get to school.
These small districts served a varying number of
students from first through eighth grades, averaging about 100
students per year. Each of the four schools provided a board member.
A fifth member was selected by the Santa Clara County superintendent
to form the first Loma Prieta board. The new school opened within
180 days of the groundbreaking on June 27, 1951.2
In the early 1970s, the mountain community was
asked to pass a bond measure to build a middle school. In those
days, the LPJUESD was growing at a rate of 35 to 45 students a year.
On the third vote, the community approved the bond to build a middle
school. Construction began, and in the fall of 1974 the school
opened. It was named in honor of former Loma Prieta District
Superintendent Clarence T. English who had died suddenly in the late
As the district grew, members of the school and
community wanted to add a community center. Fundraising began in the
1980s, sparked by the sale of a portion of school property to Santa
Clara County. Many fundraisers and a bond measure secured the money
to build a large community center that included a gym and several
smaller rooms. The building was paid for when the Loma Prieta
Community Center opened with a grand dinner-dance party in November
In the 1980s the State of California made funds
available to schools wanting to upgrade old buildings. Early in
1989, the Loma Prieta School board voted to upgrade. Part of the
process included trenching for fault lines. A number of fissures
were found under some of the school buildings that led to closing
portions of the school. The district set up portable buildings on
the CTE school site and moved the students.
The Loma Prieta Earthquake that struck on October
17, 1989, severely damaged the remaining school buildings. More
portables were set up on the CTE site. The board began planning a
new elementary building on the CTE site that culminated in a
groundbreaking ceremony on October 17, 1992. Two years later, the
community celebrated completion of the project at 5:04 p.m. on
October 17, 1994.
Almost ten years later, the school board turned
its attention to C.T. English Middle School. With aging buildings,
some closed since the earthquake, CTE needed to be replaced. The
community again supported the school district by passing Measure K
on March 5, 2002. Groundbreaking took place June 25, 2005, and the
students moved in on October 17, 2006.
An article in the San Jose Mercury Herald on December 7,
1949, defined the questions the voters of the four districts were
asked to answer. "…The first on the merger proposal, and the second
on possible site for a new school building to service students of
the four schools. Votes on the merger will be counted first to
determine if the second tally is necessary.
"Should the merger proposal be successful, and a
site selected for a new school, location of the building will affect
selection of trustees to serve the new unified district." In other
words, the voters were asked to decide which county they wanted to
build the school in and that county would provide educational
Unofficial precinct reports on December 8, 1949
SJMH, showed that Summit School voters supported unification, 21 to
3; Burrell, 18 to 1; Highland, 38 to 12; and Hester Creek, 17 to 1.
Votes for site location were: Summit: 29 for
Santa Clara County and 4 for Santa Cruz County; Burrell, 16 to 4;
Highland, 31 to 21; and Hester Creek, 9 for each choice. That is why
LPJUESD is a Santa Clara County School and our students go to Los
Gatos or Saratoga high schools.
2. Fred Walter was the Summit School board member
selected to serve on the Loma Prieta board. He will be 102 years old
on February 6, 2008, and lives with his daughter and son in Redwood