On March 15, 1919 Common School District No. 4 in Hidalgo County became Pharr-San Juan Independent School District. Forty years later in 1959, Alamo merged with the district, establishing what is now known as the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District, a district that caters to over 31,000 students in the tri-city area.
PSJA ISD houses students from three different cities, who come from similar backgrounds and way of life. The student body at PSJA ISD is 98.97% Hispanic, 85.37% economically disadvantaged and 73.16% at risk. With the district’s proximity to Mexico, 41.36% of the students are considered Limited English Proficient (LEP) with Spanish being the language spoken at home.
Despite those figures, PSJA ISD has maintained a culture of pride and excellence. Known for its “children first” environment it has actively taken those challenges and has helped motivate students to pursue an education beyond high school.
For the 2018-19 school year, 12 PSJA campuses earned "A" ratings from the Texas Education Agency. In addition, seven schools earned All-Performance Distinction Designations for ELA/Reading, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies (Middle Schools Only), Academic Growth, Closing the Gaps and Postsecondary Readiness. PSJA's Carmen Anaya Elementary and Cesar Chavez Elementary, both located in the South Pharr, Las Milpas area, were designated National Blue Ribbon Schools in 2018. Since the inception of the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program's, PSJA ISD has had three other schools receive these honors. In the 1987-88 school year Raul Longoria Elementary was awarded the Blue Ribbon School designation. In the 1998-99 school year, Napper Elementary received this honor and in 2009 James Bowie Elementary, now McKeever Elementary was awarded.
PSJA ISD believes all children can learn and within that motto it is focused on performance by having highly qualified teaching staff, effective research-based curriculum, plus state-of-the-art technology to meet all instructional needs.
PSJA in 1915
In 1915, when Pharr and San Juan were the only towns in our school district, the central part of PSJA High was erected. Maroon and white were chosen as the school colors, and the Bear was chosen as the emblem. The school building was to house not only four high school grades, but all seven elementary grades as well. By 1923, it was equipped with a principal and five teachers.
Expansion began in 1924 when the H.E. Cottage was built. The following year real progress was made, as our school, though still outside the city limits, was added to the Pharr sewer system. In 1927, the east and west wings and auditorium were added to the main building, and some additional repairs were made, all at a cost of about $93,000. The picket fence around the high school was at last removed in this year.
After the roaring twenties had subsided, the sidewalk along Highway 83 from the high school to San Juan was completed. Girls’ showers were built under the auditorium stage; they have been very useful as storage space, but not as girls’ showers. In 1937, the band hall was added at a cost of $1,600, and the next year the board purchased the district’s first school bus, which ran only along highway 83.
1940 saw the erection of a corrugated iron shed to be used as a “temporary” manual training center. Three years later an instrument storeroom was added to the band hall. “The Den” was added south of the Tax Office in 1944, with doors opening into the cafeteria, which is not the Superintendent’s office. A 20x60 addition to the “doghouse” was completed in 1948, and the stadium was completed in 1949.
In 1950, the choir building was added south of the auditorium. A controversy arose in 1952 over the building of a gym and a girls’ P.E. building. The issue was voted down, but the voting was so close that it was decided to go ahead and build only the P.E. building. Finally, in 1958, a $2,250,000 bond issue was passed for the building of a new high school. It is under construction now by the Harold Hendricks Contracting Company.
Pictured and Text Donated to PSJA by Robert Clyde in 1984.
Today PSJA ISD has 43 schools and serves over 32,000 students! The district is focused on graduating ALL students College Ready, College Connected and College Complete!