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History of Commerce ISD

old one-room school building
old two-story school building from 1898
old two-story school building from 1910


Commerce school history predates city

The following was published with permission from the Commerce Journal in 2008. The original article was first published by the Journal in March 1984. Information was compiled and the article was written by Frances Hyatt, a participant in the school district's volunteer program. Mrs. Hyatt and her husband, Carl Hyatt, and Bill Latson were co-owners of the Commerce Journal from 1951-1966. She was employed for eight years by East Texas State University as a newswriter in Communication Services and as an editor of vocational curriculum materials. All photos are courtesy of the Commerce Public Library.

From a two-room cabin in 1872, the Commerce public school system has grown into a multi-million dollar conglomerate in 1984 with an annual budget of $3,565.225. (The 2007-2008 CISD budget is over $15 million.)

However, a public school system involves much more than the physical plant, and a true history requires more than a mere chronological journal. Merely for organization, this informal account drawn from a number of sources that are regarded as reliable will be arranged in relation to the terms of the various superintendents.

And while the superintendent usually is the primary influence in a school sytem, many others must be considered--prevailing economic conditions, tax base, local attitude toward learning, politics, demographics, technological developments and state and federal assistance.

Commerce is located in an area that has experienced no rapid growth, no influx of people, and has never had the benefit of wealth such as oil and gas or large industries. The area has been dependent on agriculture, the railroads, and the local university. Not until recent years has industry of any significant size added to the tax base.

It also is almost impossible to tabulate a true picture of enrollment because in more than 100 years the number of grades has increased at intervals and no statistics until the 1960s have included the school in the Norris community.