Early History for Public Education in Ector County

Decade - 1900

1906

Baker Ranch School: Rancher R. W. Smith, who moved to the area this year, and Teague Baker started the first country school in Ector County. The first teacher, Lora Shackleford was paid $15 a month plus room and board.

The Baker school, consisting of an 8 x 10-foot classroom, was built in Baker's pasture. Baker and Smith planned to build a larger schoolhouse but they realized they required more money to operate it. They therefore decided to create a public school district.

Smith later said, "Since we had to have trustees to run a public school, the country commissioner ordered an election to name trustees. Baker and I held the election. We opened the polls at eight in the morning and closed them at 6 p.m. in accordance with the law. The county judge had told us that we had to have three men to hold the election, so we got a cowboy to sign the paper with us. By 6 p.m. the cowboy , Baker and I had been the only ones who voted. We declared ourselves elected, closed the polls and brought the papers to town the next day. So we had a public school with five pupils. The county paid us $15 a month and Baker and I paid $15, making $30 a month we paid the next teacher."

1908

First football team: A group of married men organized Odessa's first football team, on a field between Jackson and Texas, north of Eighth Street. Even in those days, watching football was a popular source of entertainment for Odessans. Townspeople could purchase grandstand seats for 15 cents, or stand for free.

School district grows: Baker school district was added to the already existing Odessa, Judkins, County Line and Fairview school districts. Odessa had the largest school district with six teachers and 185 pupils.

1909

School house: Odessa's second red brick school house was donated by A. W. Wight, a prominent pioneer rancher. (The town's first public school was built in 1890). The new school house cost $14,000 to build and was located between Ninth and 10th streets at Lee and Sam Houston. It contained six classrooms, an auditorium, a small music room and the superintendent's office.