The History of Kingman Unified School District #20

While the name Kingman Unified School District can only date back to 2001, KUSD No. 20 has its roots reaching all the way back to 1872; back when Arizona was just a territory!

Check out our interactive timeline below for information regarding our wonderful history!

The start of KUSD was when the Board of Supervisors “declared a school district” for Mohave County in 1872 which lead to to the first ever Kingman School House, an 18-feet by 40-feet room that opened in 1886.

“Our new school house has been completed and is quite a handsome addition to the town,” wrote a reporter with the Mohave County Miner.

This small, one-room schoolhouse was considered ample enough, until around 1894, when there started to be a daily attendance of 35 students.

With these numbers in play, the board of trustees for then Kingman School District No. 4 – later called Kingman Elementary School District No. 4 – hosted a bond election for the first permanent school house in the County. A total of 63 votes were cast, 49 in favor and 14 against, for the issuance of $6,000 in bonds to build the Little Red School House. On March 28, 1896, the first classes were held at the small brick building at the corner of Fourth Street and Oak Street. To this day, the building can still be found, but it now holds the Kingman Municipal Court.

Arizona achieved statehood in 1912, five years before the first county high school was built at First and Oak Streets. Mohave County Union High School gave birth to the Mohave Union High School District No. 30 around 1917.

Another landmark in 1929 is the creation of Kingman’s first Grammar School – later named Palo Christi Elementary School – on Maple Street.

In 1936, the first gymnasium for MCUHS was built, and it would later be listed on the National Register for Historic Buildings. The building is still in use today, as it hosts the Club for YOUth.

Two fires devastated the Kingman public school system in 1973. The first, Jan. 18, was a fire at the old Mohave County Union High School building. The entire building was destroyed and had to be demolished.

The second fire was July 5, 1973. A Doxol railway gas tanker had caught fire on the tracks in the 2600 block of Andy Devine Avenue. Twelve volunteer firefighters responded to the scene. At 2:09 p.m., the tanker exploded. All 12 firefighters lost their lives.

The reason this is vital to the history of KUSD is that one of those firefighters was Richard Lee Williams, a former principal of Mohave County Union High School. The memory of these 12 men lives on in Kingman’s second high school, Lee Williams High School on Grandview Avenue. Not only are the brave men remembered in the school’s name, but in their mascot: the Volunteers.

In 2001, the true birth of Kingman Unified School District No. 20 was realized. July 1st of that year, Kingman Elementary School District No. 4, Mohave Union High School District No. 30, Chloride School District No. 11 and Dolan Springs School District all combined to form KUSD No.20. KESD brought 5,000 students, MUHSD had 2,400 students, and Chloride had 250 students, which brought the new school district’s population to 7,650 students; a rather expansive school district!

The first superintendent was Mike Ford, who had been serving as superintendent of MUHSD, and his assistant superintendent was Betsy Parker, who was serving as KESD superintendent.

KUSD 20 is proud to be part of a history of excellence that spans nearly 150 years. Today, Kingman Unified School District No. 20 is a preschool through 12th-grade public school district. The attendance boundaries are J-shaped, reaching as far as the Colorado River, and serving over 3,000 square miles. The district has 11 school sites with a total enrollment of 7,000 students and growing!

Images courtesy of the Mohave Museum of History and Arts.

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