The doors of McKinley School opened for the first time on January 4, 1917. The school contained six classrooms, an office, a boiler room, and an assembly room. The first PTA meeting was held on February 3, 1917.
In the first year, only two classrooms were used with about 30 children assigned to each room. The PTA and Dad’s Club worked very hard in those days, too, and by April they had constructed the first playground equipment. Most of it was made by hand. McKinley proudly possessed the largest jungle gym on any playground in California.
During World War I, McKinley School was the center for Red Cross collections. Families worked hard trying to collect things for the needy as well as trying to improve the school. The population of San Leandro doubled during the 1920’s and so did the school population. By June 7, 1922, it was necessary to add two portables to handle the increased enrollment. In 1926, the two story wing was added.
During the Depression of the 30’s secretarial and janitorial help was performed by WPA personnel. Andy Cartwright, McKinley’s first principal, became Superintendent of Schools.
During WWII, McKinley overflowed with students, over 800. Double sessions became the norm. In 1942, a kindergarten portable was added to the front lawn.
The 1950’s was the era of unification for the San Leandro schools. In 1952, the primary wing was added and gave McKinley seven more classrooms. In 1953, the Assembly room, some classrooms, and the office were remodeled. In 1957, a fire broke out and the auditorium was destroyed. The existing multi-purpose room and the music room were completed in 1959.
The 1960’s brought new math and improved library programs. Two portables were removed from the back and because enrollment was dropping, the kindergarten portable was moved to Pacific High School to be used as a music room. The appearance of the playground changed. No one is sure what happened to the famous jungle gym. The PTA and Dad’s Club changed the back field from weeds and dirt to green grass.
In the 1970’s, McKinley became one of the Early Childhood Education pilot schools. The program required many volunteer parent hours. They also installed a reading lab.
In the 1980’s, we have concentrated on the “Three R’s”; reading, writing, and arithmetic. A new awareness of learning capabilities and disabilities prompted special education programs. Because it was declared unsafe in case of earthquake, the two story wing was knocked down.
In 1995, a garden was constructed to support our garden-based science curriculum. In 1996, we proudly took an aerial snapshot of our students as we recognized them for their accomplishment of reading 1,000,000 minutes.
Nineteen-ninety-eight finds us as active as ever. Parents have become helpers in the classroom and help with special programs. They are supporters of the Outdoor Education Program. Through PTA, Dad’s Club, and Gifts Catalog, parents purchase many items that enhance the students’ education. They are participants in School Site Council and District-wide advisory boards. The list goes on and on.
In the summer of 1998, McKinley School received a new coat of paint and a new playground.
In the fall of 2008, McKinley’s boys’ and girls’ bathrooms were remodeled.
On October 14, 1998, the McKinley School Website was launched! In the Fall of 2001, we registered our very own domain name: www.mckinleyschool.net! The all-new McKinley School Website was relaunched on October 28, 2001. Seven years later, on October 28, 2008, a completely remodeled McKinley School Website reappeared after its long summer respite.
Hopefully, we will have many more years of history to add to this!
Special thanks to Ms. Kucala, proud alumn and the author of this article, and to Ms. Hefner, for finding this in her car’s glove compartment!