Part 1 - Circa 1870-1878
The first school district formed in the El Cajon area was Cajon School District on October 4, 1870 (the name was officially changed to El Cajon School District on April 4, 1906). The first classes were held in a squatter's cottage on the south side of Main Street between Magnolia and Orange Avenues. Initially six students were enrolled, with Miss Bishop as the first teacher. As enrollment grew, it is believed that the school probably met in two other houses before a regular school building was constructed in 1878-89.
Part 2 - Circa 1878 - 1920
The first school was ironically known as the "big school" although it consisted of only two classrooms, one atop the other, in a two-story structure. It was located on the east side of Magnolia Avenue between Park Avenue and Wells Avenue. When this two-room school became too small it was sold to the Catholic Church and the District built a one-story school nearby on an adjacent site. As the District continued to grow, two more classrooms were added to the school, which served the El Cajon community until 1920when Cajon Valley Union School District was formed.
Part 3 - Circa 1920 - 1923
Concurrently, five other nearby school districts were formed, they were:
- Jamacha School District - July 21, 1876
- Meridian School District - July 5, 1887
- El Capitan School District - May 11, 1889
- Hillsdale School District - April 2, 1894
- Lakeview School District - March 5, 1895
At an election held on June 3, 1920, the voters in the El Cajon, Hillsdale, Jamacha and Meridian School Districts elected to unite together into a single district known as Cajon Valley Union School District. Bonds were approved by the voters and a new school was erected at 750 East Main Street. The new single-story building consisted of eight classrooms, restrooms and offices. Two additional classrooms from the old El Cajon School were moved to the new site to provide housing for special instruction and cafeteria services. This school opened in September 1921. At the end of the 1921-22 school year, there was a combined average daily attendance of 316 pupils.
At a subsequent election on June 18, 1923, the adjoining Lakeview and El Capitan School Districts were annexed to Cajon Valley Union School District, completing the organization of the present school district, which with minor boundary changes, remains essentially the same today. At the end of the 1923-24 school year, the new union school district had a combined average daily attendance of 375 pupils and employed 12 full-time teachers.
In the 53-year period between the founding of the Cajon School District in 1870 and the final unionization of the Cajon Valley Union School District in 1923, the average daily attendance increased steadily to an average of slightly fewer than seven per year.
Part 4 - Circa 1923-1941
Beginning in September 1923, all of the elementary school pupils (grades K-6) residing the in the six component districts of the Cajon Valley Union School District either walked or were transported by school buses to one school known as the Cajon Valley Union School located at 750 East Main Street in El Cajon, California. This school, with the addition of five acres of land adjoining on the west, and the addition of new classrooms and other needed school facilities, served as the only public elementary school in Cajon Valley Union School District until December 8, 1941.
In this eighteen-year span of time, enrollment continued to grow and classrooms were added as needed. On June 28, 1926, the voters of the District approved the issuance of bonds in the amount of $16,000. These bonds were subsequently used to finance the construction of four new classrooms and an auditorium which were added to the existing school mentioned in the preceding paragraph. In 1932, one additional classroom was added, probably financed from current operating funds.
At this point it is important to note that all school building constructed up through 1932 were razed by 1967; none of these remain standing today. Even more significant is that the classroom wings constructed from 1937 through 1940, described in the following paragraphs, are the oldest buildings of the District still on the site and in use today. Recently renovated in 2007-09, they currently house Business and Fiscal Services, Payroll, Personnel, Long-Range Planning and Special Education.
On July 13, 1936, the voters of the District again approved the issuance of $28,000 in bonds which subsequently financed the construction of two separate school projects on the same school site. The first of these two projects consisted of four classrooms and a shower and locker room for seventh and eigth grade girls. Construction of this building began in the spring of 1937 and was completed in time for the opening of school in September of the same year. The second project consisted of three classrooms and a shower and locker room for seventh and eigth grade boys. Construction on this building began in October 1938, and was completed for the opening of the school in September 1939. Labor for the construction of this last building was provided by the Works Progress Administration and the building materials needed were supplied by separate bids and purchases made through local suppliers.
School building expansion on the site was completed by the addition of two classrooms in the summer of 1940. These two classrooms were first used at the opening of school in September and were constructed at a cost of $6,590. The maximum tax rate was used in 1940-41 to raise the necessary funds required.