In 1833, a small one room school house was built in the village of Comstock, named in honor of Horace Comstock who donated the land and funded its construction. Comstock Village School stood on the location of what is now the location of the old Comstock High School overlooking Gull Prarie Road (now 26th Street). Miss Betsy Percival was the first teacher in the small 12' x 14' school. In 1898, the original school building burnt down and was rebuilt as a two room school, providing education for the local children up to the 9th grade. Children that wanted to continue through high school attended school in either Galesburg or Kalamazoo.
In 1906, Comstock Village School became consolidated into what is now known as the Comstock Public School District, and a second story was added to Comstock School to accommodate grades up through 12 (see photo above), as well as a front office and a hot air furnace. In 1908, the district had grown to 198 students and six teachers, and graduated its first eight students; Leon Miller, Gleason Allen, Raymond Warren, Clell Peer, Phoebee Nutton, Mable Bullard, Ethel Pease, and Rose Cretsinger.
Comstock Village School would be torn down in 1921 to make room for a larger facility to accommodate the influx of people moving into the area, fueled by local industries, agriculture, and the railroad. As the area grew, additions to the school were made in 1925 and again in 1929.
In 1936 a Public Works Administration project was announced in the amount of $49,000 to construct an auditorium, a gymnasium, a football stadium, and a heating plant at the school. By the 1950s, the school eventually became known as Comstock High School, as other school buildings were being built in the district to accommodate the lower grades.
With the opening of the General Motors plant on Sprinkle Road in 1966, a new state of the art high school and athletic stadium complex was built just up the road on 26th street, which stands today as the current Comstock High School and Comstock Stadium. The old high school building was used as a middle school until the current middle school on 28th street was built in 1972. The old high school building was remodeled in 1972 to house the district administration offices, as well as other alternative, adult and early education programs provided by the school district.
The Comstock School District flourished through the years, serving as one of this areas top school systems. The school district operated four elementary schools, a middle school, and a high school, in addition to the programs at the old high school. Enrollment in the district peaked in the late 1990's to over 3,000 students. In 1992, a new community auditorium was built next to the high school, and other improvements and repairs were done to maintain the other buildings in the district.
With the economic slowdown hitting the area in the late 1990's, the Comstock School District began to see its first decline in enrollment since its inception in 1906. A new state funding formula imposed in the mid 1990's for local school districts, increasing operating costs, along with the closure of the General Motors plant forced the Comstock Public School District to begin a painful reorganization process to place the district in a more financially secure position and to ensure the district's future.
In 2004, The district was reduced to three elementary schools, with the closure of the Gull Road school. The district administration offices and other programs located at the old 26th street building were relocated to the former Gull Road Elementary building. By 2005, student enrollment had dropped to under 2,500 students.
Today, the Comstock Public School District turns the page on its colorful past, as it prepares for a bright future. The area economy has stabilized, and student enrollment has begun to grow again. The community has also begun the process of funding new capital improvement projects to make sure Comstock schools meet the needs of today's and tomorrows children. All the school buildings are beginning a slow process of being remodeled, including the complete renovation of Comstock Stadium in 2008.
Comstock Schools started out educating the children of the early settlers in the area, and has continued to educate this area's children throughout the age of steam, the nuclear age, and now the information age. Thanks to everyone who has been involved in keeping Comstock Public Schools alive and well throughout the years, as it takes a dedicated community to run a school system dedicated to educating children.
Written by Michael Hicks, former Comstock Board of Education Trustee