Cartwright District History

Heritage House at the Cartwright School.

After the Civil War, the westward trend accelerated. Wagon trains were formed, bringing pioneers west to homestead the unsettled lands. Some of these families chose to settle in the Salt River valley and filed homesteads west of the new little town of Phoenix, in Arizona Territory. In the early days in the community now known as the Cartwright Elementary School District, a few scattered families lived with determination, energy and a pioneering spirit. Some of the family names were Cartwright, Riggins, Mann, Brockman, Pike, Marlar, Bone, Doyle, Greehaw, Orme, Smoot, List, Stacey, Miller, Tompkins, Vinson and Wilky, many of whom were related.

Before Cartwright School opened in 1884 on the corner of Maricopa Road and Lateral 18 (now known as 59th Avenue and Thomas) the nearest schools were three miles away. R. J. Cartwright and Jim Marlar solicited funds and a one-room frame school was built to house fourteen students and one teacher. By 1895, the student count had reached sixty-two, so a large tent was erected and another teacher was hired. In 1897, the old frame building was moved and a one-room brick school with a basement was built. Two rooms were added in 1904.

Cartwright Elementary School District #83 was formed in 1921. In 1924, a new Cartwright School consisting of six classrooms, office, auditorium and inside classrooms replaced the brick building. This building remains a part of Cartwright School today. Cartwright School remained the only school for 72 years when tremendous growth in the community made it necessary to build additional schools. In 1924, a bond issue was held and the new, modern school was built. More land was acquired throughout the years and additional classrooms and a cafeteria were added. It wasn't until 1956 that our second school was built - Glenn L. Downs Elementary School.

The following list shows the growth of the Cartwright Elementary School District up to the present time.

1958 - John F. Long School
1959 - Powell School
1960 - Justine Spitalny School
1961 - Holiday Park and Sunset Schools
1962 - Starlight Park School
1963 - Charles W. Harris School
1968 - Desert Sands and Frank Borman Junior High Schools (Now Desert Sands Middle School & Borman Elementary School)
1971 - Heatherbrae School
1973 - Estrella Junior High School (now Estrella Middle School)Palm Lane School and CASP (later named Palm Lane North which closed during 2004-05 school year).
1975 - Peralta School
1979-80 - Byron A. Barry and Tomahawk Schools (Barry School closed in the 2009-10 school year)
1992 - Powell School reopened as the Cartwright Preschool & Gifted Center (later named the Cartwright Early Childhood Center) Closed in 2009-10
1997 - Flor del Sol (Closed in 2009-10)
1998 - G. Frank Davidson School

Due to overcrowding at schools and increased enrollment, the District began searching for available property to build additional schools. The Maryvale neighborhood was land-locked with very little available property. John F. Long, Maryvale's founder and developer generously offered the District the opportunity to purchase the former Maryvale Mall space at 51st Avenue & Indian School for a portion of its value with the stipulation that it not be torn down. The District renovated the facility into Marc T. Atkinson Middle School and Bret R. Tarver Elementary School and become one of the first districts in the country to renovate retail space into schools, for which the District received national attention. Mr. Long had a long history of generosity to the Maryvale community and the Cartwright School District for which we are extremely grateful.

2000 - Marc T. Atkinson Middle School
2001 - Bret R. Tarver School
2003 - Manuel Peña School
2008 - Raul H. Castro Middle School

The District's first superintendent was Glenn L. Downs, who served as superintendent/teacher from 1928 until his retirement in 1964. Dr. Byron A. Barry succeeded Mr. Downs as Superintendent in 1964 and served in that capacity until 1977. Mr. Robert Smith served as Interim Superintendent for part of 1977. Dr. William R. Dabb became Superintendent in January of 1978 and served in that capacity until 1997. Dr. Frank Davidson served as Interim Superintendent for part of 1997 until Bill Sullivan was hired. Mr. Sullivan served as Superintendent until his retirement in June of 2000. He was replaced by Dr. John Woollums who retired in June of 2004. In July of 2004, Michael V. Martinez became Cartwright School District's Superintendent and served in that capacity until December of 2010. In January 2011, Dr. Jacob A. Chávez was appointed Interim Superintendent and effective April 27, 2011 became the Superintendent of the Cartwright School District.