United Independent School District
The 2020-2021 school year marks the United Independent School District’s (UISD) 59th anniversary of providing educational excellence and dedication to student academic success. UISD’s history can be traced back to the spring of 1961, when trustees from three common school districts in Webb County met for the purpose of consolidating into one district. The three common districts operating at that time were: Cactus–located 28 miles north of Laredo on the Callaghan Ranch; Johnson–located in south Laredo on the Zapata Highway; and Nye, originally located on the south end of Santa Maria Avenue. Two other county schools had already merged with Cactus–Webb in 1945 and Prairie View in 1959.
The 1961-1962 school year was the first for UISD, serving about 340 students from first through ninth grades. United’s Junior/Senior High School gained national attention in the fall of 1963 for its unique underground design. It was the first school in the nation to be designed in such a way that it could double as a community shelter in the event of an atomic war and served as a model for over 300 schools across the nation. The underground classrooms were more economical to heat and cool. Nationally acclaimed, the school received recognition from the Department of Defense.
UISD again made headlines in June of 1964. At that time, state law prohibited students from speaking Spanish in school. Members of the UISD Board of Trustees, and administration, met with Texas Education Agency (TEA) officials and professors of the Foreign Language Department at the University of Texas to design and implement a pioneer bilingual program for first grade. UISD was one of the first districts in the nation to teach Spanish speakers English and English speakers Spanish. Also, for the first time, Texas students were permitted to use their native language on school grounds and in the classroom. The program was the subject of many noteworthy articles and national publications.
The District’s first graduating class was the Class of 1965 with approximately 18 graduates. A modest number indeed compared to the recent 2020 graduating class of more than 3,296 students from four high schools. Over the next 54 years, Laredo’s increasing population has propelled the District into a large school system. What started as a District of about 340 students has evolved into a District serving 44,300 students with 42 campuses situated throughout the county. UISD is the second largest District in Region One and the 24th largest in the state. For the 2020-2021 school year, the District is anticipating an enrollment of over 43,000 students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade at 42 United ISD campuses.
UISD remains steadfast in its mission: “We inspire all students to become responsible world citizens by pursuing excellence through life-long learning.”
Our intent is to continually seek ways to improve and provide consistent, quality instruction for all students in a positive learning environment.
The District takes great pride in the excellence achieved thus far. UISD has done so much so quickly, and is still young and growing. In our brief history, our accomplishments have ranged from academic success to fiscal accountability, and if that is any indication of our future, we are confident that our District will continue on its path of continued success.
The District’s 56-year milestone provides an opportunity for our community to reflect on the many contributions that UISD has made to the City of Laredo, the County of Webb, the State of Texas, and the Nation. The District looks forward to continuing serving our community and will seek and implement better ways to serve its students. Above all, UISD will continue to provide an education to its students that will allow them to use their knowledge and skills to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of others and themselves, both now and in the future.
The following depicts the time lines, opening dates, and total enrollment figures of the district’s 42 schools, as well as other important events.
- 1959 – Nye Elementary/Cactus consolidated with Prairie View
- 1961 – UISD formed
- 1971 – United Intermediate / Col. Santos Benavides Elementary (2,040 – District Enrollment)
- 1973 – Clark Elementary (1,940 – District Enrollment)
- 1976- Salinas Elementary (2,875 – District Enrollment)
- 1978 – Clark Middle School (3,761 – District Enrollment)
- 1980 – Newman Elementary (4,999 – District Enrollment)
- 1982 – Trautmann Elementary (5,847 – District Enrollment)
- 1984 – United High School (Former high school becomes 8th grade Intermediate / United Middle School) (7,014 – District Enrollment)
- 1986 – Dr. Sigifredo Perez Elementary (8,456 – District Enrollment)
- 1988 – Finley Elementary (10,600 – District Enrollment)
- 1989 – United D. D. Hachar Elementary (11,468 – District Enrollment)
- 1990 – United South Jr. / Sr. High School (12,666 – District Enrollment)
- 1991 – United South Junior High School (13,898 – District Enrollment)
- 1992 – Amparo Gutierrez Elementary School and Alicia Ruiz Elementary School (15,500 – District Enrollment)
- 1993 – Matias de Llano Elementary, Kazen Elementary, and Juarez-Lincoln Elementary (17,000 District Enrollment)
- 1993 – Passed a $75 million bond election to include the following allocations: 67% – construction of new schools, 9% additions to existing schools, 9% – existing school renovations, 6% – computer acquisitions, 7% – centralized operations, .6% – athletic facilities, and 1.4% – emerging needs fund. The bond packet accommodated the district’s needs for five years ending in 1998.
- 1994 – Paciano Prada Elementary, John B. Alexander High School, John B. Alexander Health Professions Magnet School (emphasis in Science and Math), and the United Alternative Education Center (targets at-risk high school students). The program is self-paced and accelerates achievement by employing technology, vocational options, and individualized counseling. (18,000 District Enrollment)
- 1994 – A new school organization adopted by the Board of Trustees in 1994 involved the reorganization of the district into the configuration of Pre-K through 5th grades at the elementary level, 6th through 8th at the middle school, and 9th through 12th grades at the high schools. Schools are placed in neighborhoods to allow parents to participate in the activities of the school and eliminate the busing that had been the norm in the district. To achieve these goals, UISD opened two middle schools and one elementary school in the north and south sectors of Laredo in the fall of 1995.
- 1995 – George Washington Middle School, Salvador Garcia Middle School, and John F. Kennedy-Emiliano Zapata Elementary (19,771 – District Enrollment)
- 1996/Spring – Board of Trustees adopted the Single Member District method of electing board members. Seven (7) districts were adopted allowing representation on the board by community members residing in all areas of the district
- 1996/Fall – Trautmann Middle School, Los Obispos Middle School, Roosevelt Elementary, UISD Service Center (Purchasing, Technology, Plant Operations, Central Mail, Shipping and Receiving, and Tax Office) (20,000 – District Enrollment)
- 1997 – The Academy – Magnet School for Business, Advanced Technology, and Communications provides opportunities for local certification in International Business, General Business, Business Computer Information Systems, Cisco Networking Academy with CCNA certification, A+ Certification, MOUS certification, and numerous graphic arts certification (Photoshop, Flash). (21,120 – District Enrollment)
- 1998 – Passed a $115 million bond election on June 2, 1998. The bond expenditures covered construction over the next five years of growth based on projections. Expenditures included seven new schools totaling $86,500,000, renovations and traffic improvements – $12,150-,000, instructional technology – $5,000,000, and Student Activity Center $19,355,526. (22,517 – District Enrollment)
- 1999 – John W. Arndt Elementary, Dr. Henry Cuellar Elementary, Senator Judith Zaffirini Elementary, Julia Bird Jones Muller Elementary and S.T.E.P. Academy. (25,476 District Enrollment)
- 2000 – Engineering Magnet School opened at United High School. (27,328 District Enrollment)
- 2001 – Lyndon B. Johnson Junior High/High School opens. (28,867 District Enrollment)
- 2002 – Charles R. Borchers Elementary School and Antonio Gonzalez, Jr. Middle School open. Open UISD Student Activity Center. Groundbreaking for Bonnie Lopez Garcia Elementary School.
- September 2003 – 32,157 District Enrollment.
- November 2003 – United ISD voters approve a bond package worth $142 million dollars. The bond money will be used to build six new elementary schools, one new middle school and one new high school. Bond money will be used for additions and renovations to existing schools, as well as improved computer technology throughout the District.
- August – 2004 – Two new elementary schools open their doors to students at United ISD R.C. Centeno Elementary and Bonnie Garcia Elementary open in the south part of the District. The schools were part of a bond construction program approved by voters in November 2003.
- January 2005 – 33,623 District Enrollment
- Barbara Fasken Elementary School and Malakoff Elementary School open in fall 2005
- 2006 – Lamar Bruni Vergara Middle School opens in Fall 2006
- September 2006 – 36,934 District Enrollment
- Killam Elementary opened its doors for the 2008-2009 school year.
- September 2009 – 40,900 District Enrollment
- 2010 – United High School opens new campus in Fall 2010
- Projected District Enrollment for 2012-2013: Over 42,000 students
- 2011- Cherish Skilled Unit Center at UHS 9th grade campus opens
- 2011- United ITV begins filming at their new studios located at UHS 9th grade campus
- November 2013 – United ISD voters approved a bond package worth $ 408,712,549 dollars. The bond money will be used to build 4 freshman campuses, 5 elementary schools, 3 new middle schools, reconstruction of two existing campuses, and updates to security systems as well technology infrastructure throughout United ISD.
- 2015 – Early College High School at Lyndon B. Johnson High School opens Fall 2015
- 2015 – Veterans Memorial Elementary opens as elementary number 27; of which, is phase one of the 2013 bond package passed in November of 2013.
- Projected District Enrollment for 2015-2016: Over 43,000 students
- Projected District Enrollment for 2016-2017: Over 44,000 students
- 2017 – Freedom Elementary opens as elementary number 28.
- 2017 – United High School 9th grade campus opens.
- 2017 – United South High School 9th grade campus opens; the three campuses opened in 2017 are phase two of the 2013 bond package passed in November of 2013.
- 2018 – San Isidro Elementary opens as elementary number 30
- 2018 - Raul Perales Middle School opens as middle school number 10
- 2018 – J.B. Alexander High School 9th grade campus opens; the three campuses opened in 2018 are phase three of the 2013 bond package passed in November of 2013.
- Projected District Enrollment for 2018-2019: Over 44,000 students
- 2019 – New Octavio Salinas Elementary opens
- 2019 – Lyndon B. Johnson High School 9th grade campus opens; the two campuses opened in 2019 are phase four of the 2013 bond package passed in November of 2013.
- Projected District Enrollment for 2020-2021: Over 43,000 students
- 2020 - Elias Herrera Middle School opens as middle school number 11
For more information please call the Office of Communications at (956) 473-6331.