Saturday, March 10, 2007


It's amazing what you discover when you are researching an issue. Here is a handout we found on Central from shortly after it was built. This is their description for "Americas first ageless, campus style high school." How do you think it compares to todays proposal?


The changing face of American Education is symbolized in the brilliantly new Central High School of San Angelo, Texas. It is a living testimonial to the inspired and progressive thinking of this city's school administrators, Board of Education, and the architects, with the full support of an enthusiastic citizenship.
From the inception of the basic idea to its ultimate development, a completely fresh approach has resulted in the nation's first ageless, campus type high school. Its many educational innovations and distinctive features are summarized here, depicting the evolution of an idea into reality.

In 1954 a soundly planned survey was made, analyzing San Angelo's school building requirements for the immediate future. The results were startling. Because of the growth of the city, and the rapidly increasing birth rate, the survey showed that the secondary school enrollment would almost double in eight to ten years.

Thus, the Board was faced with the problem of providing new high school facilities for an ever increasing enrollment. This meant the erection of a high school adequate for current needs, but with a high degree of flexibility for a continuing increase in the number of pupils. The Board recognized its responsibility to solve this problem at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayers, and yet to provide the city with a modem high school that was conducive to the highest possible scholastic standards.

Before reaching any conclusions, the Board and school administrators set out to learn the most advanced thinking in the planning, design and construction of similar schools over the nation. Much research was conducted, and inspection visits to new high schools in other cities were made.

The next step was the selection of a firm of architects with proven imagination and creative ability, and with broad experience in school construction.

Gradually the various phases of the problem began to crystallize, and soon there emerged a preliminary picture of the school you see today.

The school would he centrally located in a park-like area on the hanks of North Concho River; it would be larger than normal; its design would be completely functional, with the elimination of all expensive monumental architectural features; and the plant would be flexible for later expansion as enrollment increased.

In order to combine the known advantages of both small schools and large schools, and to house the students by age groups, permitting a closer relationship between teachers and pupils, a bold decision was reached. The Board decided to build individual schools within the total school plant, resulting in the revolutionary new campus type institution with eleven buildings, each designed for a specific purpose and use. This provides the very definite educational advantage of permitting small units of age-group students to spend about half a day under the supervision of familiar teachers, and the remainder of the day in other buildings designed for elective courses to meet a wide variety of special needs.

The multi-building decision brought many other advantages, of which a notable example is the use of any building at times outside the normal school day without operational expense to the other buildings. Thus, the facilities of the library, science labs, commercial shops, or gymnasium may be used at night without adding operating costs to the other buildings.

Moreover, should the time come when the traditional school day must be expanded into a longer day, or the school used more months a year, or when educational methods require changes, the school plant will be adaptable to all of these and other progressive innovations.

Total air conditioning of the buildings came as a result of a thorough and cautious analysis of all cost factors, and from the experience gained from the operation of another local air-conditioned school. Two basic facts were the significant factors in the decision. Buildings designed for air' 'conditioning are less costly to construct because of the elimination of ventilation windows and other structural details, resulting here in a building cost with air conditioning equipment that was competitive with the cost of traditional buildings. And, through the elimination of dust and dirt by air conditioning, the maintenance costs were decreased by forty to fifty percent, which more than offset the increased cost of the utilities. Moreover, year-'round air conditioning makes the buildings efficiently useful all months of the year, without regard to outside weather or temperature.

Protection of pupils' eyesight through the reduction of eye strain, comes from scientifically designed lighting which provides continuously uniform and glare-proof illumination at all hours of the day or night.

Another facility, one for physical education, which was added without any material increase in cost, is the gymnasium with swimming pool. Water sports are of growing importance, particularly in San Angelo with its rivers and lakes. Instead of the usual two gymnasiums for specialized purposes, a single large one was constructed at a cost which permitted the inclusion of the swimming pool, with its many obvious advantages.

In the type of structures, the architects met the challenge with a completely new approach to the design of school buildings; which resulted in the elimination of expensive ornamental frills; the utilization of many new materials such as glare-proof glass, porcelain and plastics; and other architectural innovations readily apparent to the observer.

The results of these many months of research, planning and building have produced America's first ageless, campus type high school. Its countless educational features can best be summarized by the single statement that it is designed to inspire students with a DESIRE TO LEARN.

In comparison with schools of similar size elsewhere, the cost figures are exceptionally favorable. The building construction cost was $2,604,277 amounting to $12.41 a square foot and $1,042 per pupil. Including furniture, equipment and other related expenditures, the total cost exclusive of the site was $3,042,277, amounting to $14.50 a square foot and $1,217 per pupil.

This, then, is the dramatic achievement of the San Angelo Board of Education and school administrators. The citizens of this city are justifiably proud of the nation's finest school plant - the San Angelo Central High School.

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