We have received and/or discovered various historical accounts of the early days of the Berkley School District. Although we have no way of verifying the specifics or accuracy of these histories, they do make delightful reading. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
Berkley School District 1840 – 2007
The Berkley School is first mentioned as a part of the Royal Oak Township School District #7 in the year 1840. The school was housed in the Blackmon School, at the corner of Coolidge and Catalpa, from 1840-1901. Teachers who served in this school at various times included Mayme Cannon, Julia Russell, Emma Brooks, Mary Brooks, Eva Hill, Anna Richards, Clare Erb, Mabel Baldwin and Josephine Denning.
In 1901, a new school building was established at the northeast corner of Coolidge and 11 Mile, named South School. This school existed until 1920 when it was converted to a dormitory for teachers. Among the teachers who served in this building were Matilda Story, Mabel Pearsall, Minnie Eseman, Margaret Brondige, Loinera Blunt, Leeta Brown, Edith Eseman, Ethel Phillips, Gladys Hansen, Hazel Teeter, Miss Robinson, Maude Moore, Beatrice Miller, and Aileen Clark.
September of 1918 brought a 34-0 vote to change from a primary district to a graded school district with pupils housed in a temporary structure on the corner of Berkley and Catalpa while the Berkley School was built. The original, temporary building was sold to the Berkley Community Church and removed from the site in 1922. The high school section was added in 1926.
In 1921, the School Board bought a block of property on Bacon, between Beverly and Wiltshire and built a four-room school building named Angell School.
In 1925, "sister schools" Pattengill and Burton, were constructed and occupied even before completion.
The depression years were hard on the district as noted by the fact that in January of 1930, all pupils were placed on half-days, half of the faculty (26) were dismissed, and bus service, domestic science and gym were eliminated from the curriculum.
In September of 1931, both Burton and Pattengill were closed for financial reasons. The buildings were used for storage and/or leased to parochial schools. Burton reopened in 1941 and Pattengill in 1943.
Class size in the early 30's was 60 in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades and was reduced to 45 in the mid-30's by the hiring of five apprentice teachers at $75 per month.
In 1949, following the post war "baby boom", Berkley High School opened across Catalpa from the Berkley School. In 1951, Tyler (Avery) and Oxford Schools were added, and in 1952, Hamilton (Rogers). The addition of junior high schools came in 1956 with Anderson and in 1957 with Norup.
Tyndall became the last elementary school addition in 1965 and with declining enrollment, was converted to a community education facility in 1977. 1979 brought the closing and demolition of the Berkley School.
Following is the administrative trail of the school district. Please understand that this document is an attempt to trace the records, but is garnered primarily from two documents (The History of School District No.7, 1840-1946 by Audren Petaja and Burton School History by D. Karshner), as well as perusal of old personnel records, and a great deal of hearsay.
A gap remains in the office of superintendent for the period 1919-1922. It is not known if there was a superintendent since it was a small K-6 district. Also, no attempt has been made to trace any instance of "acting" administrators since the records are far too vague. This is all to say, that this was a patchwork project, undertaken from a personal interest, and contains no guarantee of historical accuracy since the sources provided no such guarantee.
Lloyd Irving, Director of Personnel
In October, 1994, The School District of the City of Berkley was officially changed to "Berkley School District".
George Blaney, Director of Staff & Community Relations
The Special Education Offices, located in a residential property at 2077 Oxford, were moved to Central Office in the summer of 1999. The property was sold to the City of Berkley for $82,500.
Lois Fairman,Director of Human Resources
In the fall of 2002, the district "Restructured for Success." Avery Elementary became an early childhood center serving children from six weeks of age through grade 2. Norup Middle School was reconfigured to serve students in grades 3 - 8, and is now known as Norup School. These changes were the result of declining enrollment at both Avery Elementary and Norup Middle School.
During the 2005/06 school year, budget concerns led to "Downsizing by Design" which included the sale of the Oxford property to Eli Construction, LLC for $1,080,000 and moving the central office staff from Oxford to Avery School, located in Oak Park, during the summer of 2006 . The Oxford building is slated to be demolished during the summer of 2007 and homes built on the site. The Downsizing plan also called for Norup to be reconfigured. The remaining Avery K-2 graders moved to the new Norup International School in the fall of 2006 - making it the first K-8 International Baccalaurete school in the county.
Avery now houses both the central office staff and child care.
Gwen Ahearn, Communications Supervisor, 1983 - 2007