Superintendent's Monthly Message

By Dr. Jacqueline M. Horejs

November 2013


Happy Birthday, USD! This year we are celebrating our district’s sesquicentennial birthday – 150 years old! In November of 1863, a small group of land owners in the southwestern foothills of the county held an election to name three of their group as Trustees of the newly formed Union School District. Most of the residents in the area had settled within the past five years, having left the gold country in search of “a place to settle down.” John Parker, a major in the Almaden Militia Unit was named Board President, and the home owners of the area made public their political sentiments by naming the newly formed district in honor of the Union and also renaming Ware Road “Union Avenue.” Land at the time was valued at $15 per acre.


Although the first schoolhouse was built on sleds because the parents couldn’t decide just where it should be placed, the first permanent structure was located on the McCarthy property, currently the site of Leigh High School. In 1872, the original schoolhouse burned down, and a new one room school was built on donated land at the corner of Los Gatos-Almaden Road and Union Avenue. A bell purchased from the Southern Pacific Railroad was installed in the bell tower to signal the beginning and end of each school day. By 1913, when the district was 50 years old, a bond election was passed to provide funds for the construction of a new facility to replace Union School on the same site. The new school retained its name and stood until 1955.


By 1956, District enrollment stood at 1,387 students and 42 teachers. Six years later the district’s enrollment had grown to 5,108 students with a teaching staff of 227. Fifteen new schools and an administration office were opened between 1956 and 1969. The current District Office was built on the site of the “old school” in 1963. In 1969 – 1970 the District experienced its peak enrollment of 10,587 students, with 17 schools and a staff of over 600.


Today USD offers an exemplary educational program to 5,400 students in nine schools pre K through eighth grade. The commitment to educational excellence made by our founding fathers and mothers 150 years ago continues in all that we do in Union School District. The legacy lives on and the Union bell still rings true!


Please join us in celebrating our sesquicentennial on Thursday, November 14 from 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. at Union Middle School. We have a lot to celebrate in USD and hope you will join in the fun!