Roosevelt School District No. 66 was established in Phoenix, Arizona in 1912. The first RSD school was located south of the Phoenix City Center on the corner of what is now 7th Street and Southern.
One of the community’s first schools was the Broadway School, a small, one-room brick building; the typical “little red school house.” The other was the Heard Ranch School. The Heard School was the namesake of Dwight B. Heard, an influential resident of the area. Shortly after the District was organized in 1912, it was offered two sites for a new consolidation school by the Bartlett-Heard Estate. The site at what is now Seventh Street and Southern was chosen over a site that became Central and Southern for the building, formally named the Consolidated School.
The area’s rapid growth made it apparent the Consolidated School would have to be expanded beyond its three classrooms, which already were taxed to their limits by the school’s 150 students. Arrangements soon were made to house students in the Neighborhood House across the street, and construction was begun on expanding the original school and two new school buildings. The naming of the District is further indication of how the Roosevelt District was woven into the fabric of the state’s history.
There were very few roads in the District’s early days. Southern Avenue did not exist and students reached the school by walking or riding horses or burros along the bank of “San Francisco Ditch” from Central Avenue. Homesteaders of Anglo and Hispanic descent were the District’s original population. Mexican laborers came later to work the farms. The population increased rapidly and a twelve-room addition was built in 1921.
The burgeoning population made it necessary to provide more classrooms. This was done when schools were built on the east and a west end of the District, but this accommodation was minimal and short-lived. When the East End School burned down, the West End School was abandoned and buses were bought to transport all students to Roosevelt School.
The Original Roosevelt School
The original Roosevelt School, located at 6000 S. 7th Street, Phoenix, AZ, was destroyed in a fire on April 5, 1985. The classroom wings were demolished in 1986, and the new administration’ center opened in December 1987 on the old Roosevelt School site. The school bell that hung in the tower of the original school building survived the fire and now sits on bricks salvaged from the 1985 fire in the vestibule of the District Office Building.
Where We Are Today
The District boundaries are the Salt River to the north, South Mountain to the south, 40th Street to the east and 35th Avenue on the west. What began as a 15-pupil district in the late 1800’s has grown into a school district serving more than 9,500 students and 1,400 employees in 18 schools, an early childhood education center and a community school. The Roosevelt School District remains as the largest employer in south Phoenix.