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School districts aplenty in the early days

Archuleta County was formed from Conejos County in 1885.

The boundaries of Archuleta County are pretty much the same as a school district provided by Conejos County for students living in the area that became Archuleta County.

One of the first tasks of the newly formed Archuleta County government was to organize a new school district under local control. In those days, at least in Colorado, schools were under the control of county government. A count-wide school superintendent was elected. He reported to the county commissioners and received school funding from them.

School District No. 1 in Archuleta County was the Pagosa Springs School District. A new, two-story building for School District No. 1 was built on the north side of Lewis Street near that street’s intersection with Third Street.

The Second School District in Archuleta County soon followed. It was located at Chromo. School districts followed at Edith and in Coyote Park in the portion known locally as Boonesville because a descendant of Daniel Boone homesteaded there.

When the lumber boom hit Archuleta County beginning circa 1895, the number of schools and school districts flourished. Remember, there were no school buses in those days. How far a student could walk in a reasonably short time determined the size of a school district.

When logging and lumber mills proliferated in the county, there seemed to be a lumber mill in every valley and a school district for every lumber mill. Of course, there was a school in Pagosa Junction. As the railroad progressed from Pagosa Junction to Pagosa Springs, lumber mills and small communities sprang up along the route. Some of those communities were Talian, Kearn, Lone Tree, Dyke, Bayles, and maybe some I have forgotten. Each of those communities had schools. There were schools on the Lower Blanco, schools in the Upper Blanco, a school at Arboles, a school at Chimney Rock, at least one school in the Upper Piedra area, a school a ways up Four Mile Road, and the Born School on the West Fork of the San Juan River. There was a school at Juanita and a school at Trujillo. I may have overlooked some schools and for sure, they did not all exist at the same time.

Nevertheless, there were a lot of schools funded, ultimately, through the county government. One major source of funding was a tax on the railroad lines running through each school district.

Each school district had its own budget and a governing board which interviewed, chose, and provided housing for the school teacher. That housing was often in the home of one of the school board members.

The county school superintendent’s job was to oversee all of the school’s within the county including providing assurance that school teachers were qualified and capable of doing their jobs. An eighth-grade education was required as the fundamental qualification.