BSISD History - A Centennial Celebration


Excerpt taken from
Joe Pickle, Class of 1928
A Centennial Celebration of 
Big Spring Independent School District

Big Spring has been blessed with a desire for sound education even before there was a Howard County. This was reinforced by the creation of Big Spring Independent School District in 1901 and Howard College half a century ago. 

Our earliest settlers around 1880 recall that the first "school" functioned under a buffalo hide fly tent, possibly at the Historic Big Spring and surrounded by buffalo bone haulers, crude merchant tents, and one of which may have passed as a saloon.

When Howard County was organized in 1891, one of the first actions was to provide a two-story frame building to house a school on the west side of the 300 block of Scurry Street on the condition it also would house court proceedings at various times until a courthouse could be built.

Howard County at the time had jurisdiction over several adjoining unorganized counties. Howard therefore became school district No. 1, a number that passed to the Big Spring Independent School District when it was created.

Even in its earliest days, the county’s records reflect a commitment to education, including a school—even though separate—for a handful of African-American children. Common schools proliferated because there was almost no transportation access until there were 28 unites in the county.

There was an increasing sentiment in the late 1890s for a special status for the village schools referred to as the “reorganized No. 1 school,” because Big Spring was the largest community between Abilene and El Paso.

When B. Reagan, a recent graduate of Baylor University, became superintendent in 1898, he began organizing the curriculum that would earn affiliation with the State University (of Texas) and make us a “first class district.”  Hardly had he left the teaching profession to enter private business when voters approved the creation of Big Spring Independent School District in December 1901.

This led immediately to a $15,000 school house bond issue on February 12, 1902 (which had to be shaved temporarily by $5000 because property values would not support the full amount). The financial strain of getting underway was indicative that resources within the 100 square mile district (less than 10% of the county area, but with 90% of the population) would create financial problems for years to come. Virtually all the wealth from successive future oil strides lay outside the district.