A tradition of excellence best describes the history of the Papillion-La Vista School District. The District has excellent employees, teaching excellent students, in a community built around the school.
The history of today's Papillion-La Vista School District began over 130 years ago in a town site called Papillion. The Nebraska Territorial Legislature first incorporated the city of Papillion on February 13, 1857. It wasn't until fifteen years later that the residents of the city recognized an important ingredient to their growing community was missing. That ingredient was a school district.
The first record of a Papillion school dates back to 1872 when classes, taught by Mrs. Pauline Carpenter, were held in the home of Mrs. Thompson. The school remained in Mrs. Thompson's home for only one year until the students could be moved into a school of their own. The first official school building was located on the corner of Halleck and Adams Street. Within a year, the official enrollment was recorded at 62, however, the actual attendance was closer to 46. At the time, the school operated with all grade levels in one room and with only one teacher.
The First Bond Issue
In 1875, the District issued its first of numerous bonds to build a new brick school house at the same location. Using bricks made in Papillion, the cost of the new school totaled $3,500. This school opened for use with 60 students in September of 1876. The first recorded graduate was Bert A. Wilcox in 1888.
In 1893, the location of the school was moved to a new brick building at 420 S. Washington Street. The school served the needs of the students for the next 23 years. It wasn't until 1916 that the student enrollment began to outgrow the school. It soon became apparent that a new, modern facility was needed. In June of 1916, the second of many bond issues was successful. Carrying the public support, 111 for and only 11 against, the school was rebuilt and remodeled at a cost of $12,000.
By 1922, the school had grown to over 200 students with 10 teachers serving 12 grades, and it was again necessary to expand. The west wing of the school was added at a cost of $30,000. During construction of the new wing, the students captured a snapshot of history and preserved it in a time capsule sealed behind the 1922 cornerstone. This two-story brick school served the needs of the growing District for the next 33 years.
A Division Between Elementary and High School
By the late 1950's, the District growth spurt had begun. In 1956, the capacity and the changing needs of the District called for a newer, more modern educational facility, as well as, a division between the younger and older students. On February 19, 1957 the doors of a new high school were opened. Located directly east of the current school, the new high school contained 11 classrooms and served students in the 7th through 12th grades. Students in kindergarten through 6th grade remained in the original school.
In 1958, a new gymnasium completed the construction at the new Papillion High School. The total District enrollment at this time was less than 300. However, it was only two short years before the enrollment more than doubled to 691 students.
The City of La Vista Adds to Growth
By 1960, the complexion of the Papillion School District was changing rapidly. In the northern part of the District, a new development of over 300 homes began and a village by the name of La Vista, Spanish for "the view," was incorporated. Within two short years, La Vista became a Class II city.
Knowing that the future was destined to additional students, another bond issue was passed. The new bond issue would be used to build two new elementary schools at a cost of $245,000. Upon completion of the two new elementary schools, Trumble Park Elementary and Tara Heights Elementary, the elementary students were moved from the orginal Papillion School. The high school then expanded to utilize both the original school and the new high school.
In 1963, an $800,000 bond issue was approved. The money was then used to add a south wing to the high school containing 17 additional classrooms, a guidance office, and a nurse's office. The money was also used to build La Vista West Elementary and G. Stanley Hall Elementary, both located in La Vista, and to build an addition to Tara Heights Elementary.
In 1964, residents of the Papillion School District strongly defeated a vote to become part of the Omaha School District. Realizing the District would remain independent for centuries to come, Paul Basler was appointed Superintendent. Superintendent Basler served the Papillion School District for 22 years.
After six successful bond issues, the Papillion School District saw its first defeat in September of 1968. The proposal was to build a new high school. The new high school would be located at 84th Street and Centennial Road. The current high school was proposed to be utilized as a junior high. It took an entire year before the District returned to voters to again ask for their support of a new high school. In September of 1969, the bond passed and construction for the new high school was underway. Also during this year of change, two new elementary schools were completed for use. These schools were Carriage Hill Elementary and Parkview Heights Elementary.
A New High School
By April of 1970, the District's enrollment had grown to 3,482 and the new high school became even more critical. The new school opened in the fall of 1971 and served students in grades 9-12. In 1975, the addition of a pool and classrooms completed the high school for the next eight years.
In 1976, the District opened its second junior high and a new elementary school. La Vista Junior High opened to accommodate the growing communities of Papillion and La Vista. Ninth grade students currently attending the high school were moved to both Papillion and La Vista Junior Highs which served students in 7th through 9th grades after the second junior high opened in 1976. A new elementary school, Golden Hills, was also a welcome addition to the District.
In 1983, the District's enrollment was nearing 6,000 students and again it was necessary to add on to the high school. The approval of a $7.5 million bond issue allowed the District to meet the changing demands of a growing student population as well as the growing curricular and extracurricular activities. The high school addition included an auditorium, a track, and the groundwork for a football stadium. The elementary schools also needed to expand. In 1985, Anderson Grove and Hickory Hill Elementary Schools were built and opened in the District.
High School & District Name Change
By 1987, the city of La Vista had grown to be an integral part of the Papillion School District. Papillion was the only Class A school district in Nebraska to include two Class One cities within its boundaries. Superintendent Roger Miller recognized the conflict and competition created by one District, serving students from two communities, and worked to build unity around the District. It was at this time that the names of the Papillion School District and Papillion High School were officially changed to the Papillion-La Vista School District and Papillion-La Vista High School.
In 1991, more room was needed for the growing population at the high school. A new education wing, including two classrooms, 401 lockers, and three science laboratories were added. During this remodeling, the cafeteria was also expanded to meet the needs of the school. Again in 1992, a few expansions were made. These included expanding the parking lot and the addition of a tennis court.
In November 1992, a $19.8 million bond issue was passed. This issue included additions and renovations at Carriage Hill Elementary, Golden Hills Elementary , G. Stanley Hall Elementary, Tara Heights Elementary, La Vista Junior High, Papillion Junior High, and Papillion-La Vista High School. The bond issue also included the addition of a new elementary school, Rumsey Station Elementary, which was built and opened in the fall of 1995 along with a new central office and maintenance facility.
The construction of the central office building, located in the same spot as the previous high school built in 1893 at 420 S. Wasington Street, led to the discovery of the 1922 time capsule. In 1922, the students of the school thought it would be interesting to capture a snapshot of history and preserve it in a time capsule sealed behind the cornerstone of their school.
Seventy-four years later, thanks to a tip from William F. "Bud" Schwab, a first grader in 1922, construction workers discovered the capsule when the cornerstone was removed from the southwest corner of the building. A portion of the former school was in the process of being demolished for construction of the district office building. The eight-inch lead canister remained sealed for over a week while District officials contacted many of the former students who participated in the 1922 class project.
Over 100 guests, including students, former students, school officials, and news reporters gathered at the school site to witness the capsule's opening. The capsule contained three copies of the Papillion Times, a copy of the bond petiton, a ballot record of the contested $30,000 bond issue that built the 1922 addition, a program from the cornerstone laying, a class roster which each of the students signed, and the words to a song ending, "Lets have everyone as neighbors."
District Adds Second High School
As the Papillion-La Vista School District continued to grow, the need for a second high school became apparent. In April 1997, a $58.5 million bond issue for the construction of a new high school and two elementary schools was defeated. The defeat of this bond issue led to another bond issue in the fall of 1998.
On November 3, 1998, a $53 million bond issue as approved. In 1996, the District began the IDEAL School program, the District's alternative high school. In 2000, the IDEAL School moved into it's own facility. The money was also used to build a new high school, Papillion-La Vista South High School, which opened in the fall of 2003. PL South High School is located at 10799 Highway 370 in Papillion.
Due to the increasing size of both Papillion and La Vista, two new elementary schools have also been added. Walnut Creek, which opened in the fall of 2000, and Portal Elementary, which opened in the fall of 2003. Additional money from the bond issue was used for renovations at La Vista West Elementary, Hickory Hill Elementary, Anderson Grove Elementary, Parkview Heights Elementary, Rumsey Station Elementary, and Trumble Park Elementary.
District Creates a Blueprint for the Future
With the cities of Papillion, La Vista, and Bellevue experiencing continued growth, it was apparent that updates needed to be made to several buildings in the District to help relieve overcrowding. On Tuesday, November 7, 2006 residents in the Papillion-La Vista community passed a $40 million dollar bond issue to accommodate for growth, improve existing facilities, and preserve neighborhood schools. The bond issue included the construction of two new elementary schools, both on the south side of the District. Also on the bond issue were additions and renovations to Papillion-La Vista High School, 16-classroom addition to Papillion-La Vista South High School, additions to Hickory Hill and Rumsey Station Elementary Schools, an expansion at the Transportation/Warehouse building, and adding air conditioning units to the gymnasiums at both Papillion and La Vista Junior High Schools.
The first of the two new elementary schools, Patriot Elementary, opened in the fall of 2008. Patriot Elementary is located in the Grandview Subdivision, located just off 96th and south of Schram Road in Papillion. The second elementary school opened in the fall of 2009 and is located in the Shadow Lake Neighborhood, located off of 84th St. south of Schram Road.
No new construction was needed for nearly three years until November of 2012 when the Board of Education once again decided that it was time to plan for future growth, relieve overcrowding and maintain the current state of excellence by asking the community to support yet another bond issue. Even in tough economic times, the community rallied to the aid of the District and approved by 60% majority a $59.6 million bond issue, the largest ever, for the construction of a new middle school and elementary school. The bond issue also included renovations and additions at both current middle schools and four elementary schools.
Construction on the new elementary school is anticipated to begin as early as late spring, early summer 2013. The new middle school will be soon behind.