San Carlos — The governing board members for the San Carlos Unified School District and Dr. Richard Wilde, SCUSD superintendent, invites the community of San Carlos to an Open House for the new school district offices located next to the old district office building and attached to Rice Gym. The Open House will take place on Wednesday, June 27, from 4 to 7 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
The project involved renovation of the old tufa stone school building, built in 1930, and the construction of a new wing. The renovation of the original tufa stone building was necessary because the roof was beginning to weaken and was unsafe. Construction began in March, 2011 at a cost of $5 million.
The architecture of the exterior of the building is modeled after the historic tufa stone look, without the tufa stone. A concrete cast was specially created for this project to match the tufa stone as it would have been too costly to ship the stone in. “Due to the building’s historical value, the governing board decided to use funds to renovate the tufa stone building to house the district office. We’re excited the building keeps the historical look and it should serve administrative space needs for at least 20 years,” said Dr. Wilde.
The interior of the building is unique with a metal ceiling, unique lighting fixtures including motion lighting, and an impressive state-of-the art high-tech conference room. The new offices will house Special Education, Technology, district services including Personnel, Finance, Communications, the Associate Superintendent and the Superintendent.
History of Rice Elementary School
The original Rice Elementary School buildings have a rich history. According to records obtained through Seth Pilsk, Tribal Botanist, the remaining oldest tufa stone building on our campus was built in 1930 by the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Indian Affairs for $41,450. The building was modified or renovated in 1937 for $9,840. Over the years, the building has been used to house classrooms, the district office and the Special Education office.
According to internet archives and books, Rice School is named after Lt. Sedgwick Rice who was part of an Army regiment assigned to protect pioneers against the Indians as they moved into the western U.S. He served as the acting Indian agent at the San Carlos Reservation in 1898. He also negotiated the agreement for the crossing of the railroad line on the reservation. At one time in the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were two schools on the reservation. One was a day school for camp Indians living in old San Carlos and a boarding school in what is now known as San Carlos. The school in old San Carlos was moved due to the building and completion of Coolidge Dam. The dam was completed in 1928 and dedicated in 1930. The other school, Rice Boarding School, also known as Rice Station boarding school opened in 1900 at the Rice Elementary location. The area was also known as Talkalai.
By 1906, the school was filled to capacity with 216 Apache students. The school included two large dormitories, four classrooms and a chapel. It appears the remaining tufa stone building was added to accompany students who were being moved from the old San Carlos school. The first mention of the use of tufa stone was noted in an annual report by the Commission of Indian Affairs in 1901, which reads: “The school is located on the San Carlos Reservation, 13 miles north of San Carlos and 20 miles south of Globe, on the Gila Valley, Globe and Northern Railway. It is situated in a beautiful valley almost entirely surrounded by majestic mountains, an ideal location for a school. “ The main buildings namely, girls’ dormitory, boys’ dormitory, mess hall and kitchen, and school building are constructed of adobe, one story high, plastered inside and out, and were completed in April, 1900. Since the completion of these buildings a quarry of beautiful white stone was discovered within 2 miles of the school, which was found to be an excellent building material, using ordinary hatchets to shape it for the builder’s use. Three buildings have since been constructed of this stone an employees’ building, storehouse, and ice plant.”
The dedication and of the new school district building will be held at a later date closer to the beginning of school in early August.