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History

PVSchools has a long history of empowering every learner for a lifetime of success. Throughout the years, district staff have engaged, inspired, and nurtured students in one-room school houses, traditional classrooms, and top-tier facilities. 

Each and every year, students and staff contribute to the rich history of PVSchools. Enroll today to experience a longstanding dedication to high-quality instruction, meaningful educational opportunities, and dynamic learning experiences.

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Before it was paradise

In 1913, a lot of special things happened. The federal tax was levied for the first time, Henry Ford started using an assembly line, and people gathered to fight for women's voting rights. Children also began finding prizes in their Cracker Jacks, and Arizona became a state. Because of its beauty, people were starting to move to north Phoenix, the future home of the Paradise Valley Unified School District (PVSchools).

In 1913, the hardy few signaled their determination to make Paradise Valley home by opening a one-room schoolhouse a half-mile east of 32nd Street and Cactus.

Sunnyside School served 14 boys and 21 girls the first year and became the precursor to Paradise Valley Unified School District.

PVSchools, now one of Arizona's largest districts, serves approximately 30,000 students across a geographical area the size of Flagstaff. PVSchools is located in nearly 100 square miles of northeast Phoenix and north Scottsdale in an area bounded by Pima Road and 7th Avenue to the east and west and Jomax Road and Northern Avenue to the north and south.

Starting the journey

‚ÄčOver its 100-year plus history, the district's growth grew as the community evolved. However, when the area failed to secure water rights for irrigation, many packed up and left. In fact, there is no record of a school from 1920 to 1923, probably because there were not 10 children in the area, the required number for schools to operate.

Image of Sunnnyside School in black and white.

Sunnyside School, serving boys and girls in the northern area of Phoenix, Arizona as early as 1913.

Throughout the rest of the 20s, the school operated with only the basics. The school, which had moved in 1918 to a barn-like building at the northeast corner of 32nd and Greenway, had no indoor plumbing but proudly boasted "an outdoor facility – one for the boys and one for the girls." Students worked on reading, writing, and arithmetic, also having to bring wood inside for the stove.

By 1930, concerned citizens knew they had to prepare for growth. Edwin Nisbet donated land for a new school (the present-day site of Greenway Middle School) that he originally purchased for 50 cents an acre. Still, the area was served by a single school throughout the 30s and 40s. In the late 1940s, when electricity first came to the area, the district began to grow.

As growth continues

‚ÄčAs World War II ended, a boom was underway. The early settlers — who many streets we use today are named after — finally saw their investment in the area pay off. Among them, the Bells, Nisbets, O'Clairs, Norrises, and Vondraceks.

By 1956, the district had 259 students who had to attend tenth grade at Phoenix Union High School. That changed in 1957 with the opening of Paradise Valley High School (which was rebuilt in 1993). The Paradise Valley High School District was formed in 1957. And in July of 1976, the high school district unified with the elementary and middle schools districts creating the Paradise Valley Unified School District.

The district went on to build four schools in the 1960s. Some schools were closed through the following decades, and others remodeled, but growth and construction were a constant for the district. The projects included 13 schools in the 1970s, 11 schools in the 1980s, 10 in the 1990s, and nine since 2000. Sky Crossing Elementary School, the newest school, completed in 2021. Roadrunner School also received a major renovation in 2021 and Palomino Primary School is was rebuilt with construction being complete in 2022. 

The journey of excellence

By the district's centennial year in 2013, it had grown to 53 school sites and support facilities. New construction across the district reflects changing needs as the district has evolved with the community. Technology has been a driver as the district prepares students with 21st-century skills. So has serving expanding areas as growth continues in the northernmost parts of Phoenix and Scottsdale.

Certainly, when one of the early teachers bumped along roads no better than cowpaths in a Willys Knight automobile to greet her 24 students, she could hardly have envisioned a district as large or progressive as PVSchools is today.