History of the Loma Prieta Joint
Union Elementary School District

Marlene Wiley

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 1960s.

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 1988.

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.


1. 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 support.

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 Estates.

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