Skip to main content

History of the District

Story of Churn Creek Valley and the Pacheco Union School District

Churn Creek Bottom, or Churn Creek Valley, as the residents of the area referred to it, was settled in the early 1800's. Some of the early settlers were families named Tracy, Logan, Harris, Parsons, Deakins, Hampton, Dinsmore, MacFarland, Love, Howard, Schaub, Saxon, McKinnon, Beach, Robinson, Pool, Edge, Brimmier, Hill, and Weir. Descendants of these early families still live in Shasta County. These first settlers contributed greatly to Shasta County's agriculture, history, education, and culture. We are particularly interested in the development of education in Churn Creek Valley.
Before 1875, school had been held in a private homes in the valley. The teacher boarded with various families, one week at a time. School would be held at the home where the teacher boarded that week, then on to another home the following week. Records of the school and its affairs are vague. There are many gaps in the accounts as to dates and activities. Much information that has gone into this story was collected by members of the Green Acres 4-H Club in 1985 as part of Pacheco School's 110th Anniversary. That year the 4-H held an Ice Cream Social at the school. Special invitations were sent to the descendants of early residents in Churn Creek Valley. The social was well attended.

A primary source of information was Vern Parsons. Vern was born, lived and worked in Churn Creek Valley all of his life. He sill has a piece of land in Churn Creek Bottom that has been in his family over 100 years. The writer of this article has collected much background information through casual conversation with the people of Churn Creek. As an employee of the Pacheco Union School District he has observed the changes that have taken place over the last 33 years.

There has been no attempt to make this into a scholarly report. The information gathered is derived from many named and unnamed sources. However there is more truth than fiction in this story.

  • The first building to serve as a schoolhouse in Churn Creek Valley once served as a hog barn on the Jim Beach ranch. Due to the manner in which the building was constructed, hogs could enter the place at night and sleep there. Water for school use had to be carried in buckets from a ranch a quarter of a mile away. It was mainly because of the hogs night quarters that the three member school board decided that a new school house was in order.

    Land values were low. Taxes at that time were $1.50 per $100 valuation. Money for the new school house was estimated between $55 and $1,500. Even these modest estimates seemed huge to many residents. There was much opposition to the proposed bond. A bond on the school district had to be passed in order to provide funds for the new building. The majority of the people in the people in the district thought that if they just didn't vote the bond would fall. Five favorable votes were cast and the bond passed.

  • The new school house was built on a site donated by the Issac C. Morgan family about halfway down the valley. The new schoolhouse was completed in 1884. The building was a white, one-story frame structure with high window on the north and south sides.. It had a belfry which held the bell. The bell was rung each morning at 8:30 a.m. by the janitor, and by the teacher at 9:00 a.m. to call class to order. Old-timers remember the bell being used as a fire alarm or as a help signal. This bell can be seen today in front of Pacheco School. The date on the bell reads May 4, 1875.

    The school was heated by large wood furnace with pipes hanging from the ceiling to carry heat throughout the room. Later, with volunteer labor, the furnace was replaced by a pot-bellied stove.

  • Up until this time the School District did not have a name. It was suggested by Mrs. Logan, wife of a board member, that the new school be name Pacheco in honor of General Pacheco who had been governor of California for a short time. This suggestion was well received and in 1884 the Churn Creek area became the Pacheco School District.

  • With the building of Shasta Dam and the general economic advancement of Shasta County, people demanded better educational facilities. In the wake of these demands, the one teacher school was doomed. In many cases, it was found that there were not enough children in a district to open a fall term of school. The few children, in such a district, were transported to an adjoining district. These small schools were expensive to operate and often did not have the best facilities. As time went on, more and more small schools were annexed to larger and better equipped school districts. Prairie District, which lay south and east of Pacheco, was first to be annexed to Pacheco. This was done on January 16, 1951. On this date Pacheco became the Pacheco Union School District.

    Like the original Pacheco District, the Prairie District had many early day settlers who were the founders of the Prairie Community. Family names such as St. Vrain, Stevenson, Stennison, Craven, Dillon, and Severtson were among the first settlers in that area.

    The trend to phase out the smaller districts continued and in July 1963 the Sacramento River District, established in 1863, which was east of Pacheco, was annexed to the new union district. On March 2, 1964 the Shasta County Board of Supervisors recognized the annexation of portions of the Parkville District to Pacheco Union District. The Parkville District lay farther east and south of Pacheco. Names like Beatie, Jensen, McMullen, Reed, Halesman, McWhennie, Ross, Brightman, Robinson, Kuney, Peacock, Leas, Daymon, Vestal, Hickman, Jack, Dersch, and Hawes were some of the early settlers in this area. The Parkville Cemetary is the resting place for many of these settlers. The grave markers are interesting to read and provide incite to the local history. These people and their descendants have made and are still making contributions to the Pacheco Union School District and to Shasta County.

  • In 1949, the Board of Trustees decided that a new school site and a new school building was needed. The playground area and building area were now set by state law. The new school site and its building began serving students in 1949. Pacheco School has been located at its present site for the last 42 years. Prairie School was built and began serving students in 1965.

  • In 1958 there were 176 children in Pacheco Union District in grades K-8. This was long before I-5 was thought about and agriculture was still the main use of land in Churn Creek Bottom.

    From 1958 until the present time there has been a constant increase in population and economic development in Churn Creek Valley. The rural agricultural life style has been greatly restricted.

    During this time the Pacheco School Board of Trustees was increased from three to five members. Inter-State I-5 was constructed through the middle of Churn Creek Bottom. The 76 Truck Stop was built. The trailer park developments on Riverland Drive have opened. All these factors have led to change in the Pacheco Union Distinct.

    Throughout this time voices of concern were heard from those who wanted to "open up" the Churn Creek Bottom to more rapid economic development and those who wanted to "maintain" the rural agricultural nature of the area. The Pacheco School District often found its self criticized for its policy of neutrality on matters of growth and economic development.

    In 1971, 1972, and 1973 the Pacheco District had its first summer school programs. These summer programs were popular and very well attended. They offered a combination of academic and recreation activities for children. These were the only summer programs ever conducted by the Pacheco School District

    During the early 1970's the District student population reached a high of 860, leveled off, and began to gradually decline. This was not just a local phenomenon. Student populations were declining state wide. This was a period of layoff notices and economic uncertainty.

    The decline in enrollment continued until 1985 when the student population was down to 628 students. After a few years at this level the District began another growth spurt. In the 1990-91 school year the District had increased to over 900 students. Growth projections indicated that planning be begun for additional school sties.

    The current plans, dealing with growth, include completion of the Prairie School Site. Bringing the capacity of the site to 600 children. The District is in the process of getting another school site north of Rancho Road.

    As of June1991, Pacheco Union School District covered about 25 square miles in area. There are two school plants. Pacheco School and Prairie School. Prairie School is kindergarten through third grade school and has 13 classrooms, a library and computer lab. The Pacheco site is fourth through eighth school and has 23 classrooms, a library and a computer lab.

    During the spring of 1991 we found that Pacheco Union Employs :

    • 38 classroom teachers
    • 25 teacher aides
    • 6 bus drivers
    • 1 transportation Supervisor
    • 5 custodians
    • 3 secretaries
    • 1 superintendent
    • 2 principals
    • 1.3 library clerks
    • 1 librarian
    • 3 District support staff
    • 2 cooks
    • 5 assistant cooks
    • 2 computer technicians

    The Pacheco Union School District is one of only two school districts in the state of California to be divided between two high school districts. After graduation from the 8th grade, our students go on to the Anderson Union High School or into the Shasta Union High School Districts. It appears that this issue may be resolved in the event that area wide unification proposals take place. Unification proposals are now being studied through out the Redding area.

    Pacheco students are recognized in their respective high school as being well prepared.
    The next period of growth, if it develops according to State Cohort projections, shows that Pacheco Union can expect over 1200 students by 1993-94.
    It has been rich experience to have personally observed the last 33 years of Pacheco history. I deeply appreciate all the wonderful people I have worked for. Pacheco has been and is a great place for its many great people.

    Thank you,
    Spencer G. Smith
    June 1991