The district officially came into existence as State Consolidated District No. 1 on July 1, 1915 under the authority of a state consolidation law. Shortly thereafter, residents of the area voted 52 to 1 to approve a $12,000 bond to supplement an $18,000 appropriation from the state for the construction of a new school building for grades one through twelve.
Not long after, the school board adopted the name Caesar Rodney for the district and school in honor of the Revolutionary War hero and statesman who had made his home near St. Jones Neck in the eastern part of the county. Three years later the state legislature passed another consolidation law in an effort to eliminate many of the one-room schoolhouses that dotted the state.
On July 1, 1919 the Caesar Rodney Consolidated School District was joined with six smaller surrounding districts to form the Caesar Rodney Special School District, one of 13 "larger and more responsible" districts in the state that were "endowed with the authority to own and administer buildings, grounds and equipment; to conduct all grades; to provide free textbooks and supplies; to elect a superintendent and a principal, to demand certification of teachers; and to levy taxes with the vote of the people."
As a result of that law, the district hired its first superintendent, Gilbert Nickel, who led a staff of 17 teachers. Nickel would serve in that capacity until July of 1923 when Wilbur H. Jump became the district's second superintendent, a position he would hold for the next 15 years. Also, the remaining "one-room school house districts" in the state were established as school attendance districts under the direct supervision of the state board of education.
During the years 1919 to 1969, 12 more of the surrounding attendance districts were absorbed into the Caesar Rodney Special School District (the Comegys District which actually contained the lands of Caesar Rodney's home near St. Jones Neck did not join until 1937).
Finally, in 1969 the state legislature, in an effort to eliminate the last of the one room school districts in the state, consolidated all remaining districts into twenty-three reorganized school districts. The Caesar Rodney Special School District became the Caesar Rodney School District at that time, assuming its present boundaries with the addition of the Magnolia and Oak Point districts, and encompassing what had been thirty-seven separate one-room school districts at one point.
When the Caesar Rodney School District came into existence in 1915, students attended school in a variety of old frame buildings that had been used by the former Camden and Wyoming districts. With the $30,000 from the new district’s first referendum and state appropriation, the original Caesar Rodney School was built, a twelve room, three story, red brick structure on six acres of land at the corner of Camden-Wyoming Avenue and Caesar Rodney Avenue [on the present athletic fields of Fifer Middle School]. The new school, serving 99 students in grades 1-12, opened for school in 1916.
With the 1919 consolidation the district enrollment swelled to 564 students and a second building was brought into the district. However, this building, the Star Hill School, would remain a segregated school serving the district’s African American students in grades one through eight until 1965.
In 1926, the aging frame Star Hill School was replaced by a new two room brick structure and an identical building was constructed in Wyoming. This new school, originally named the Wyoming Colored School (and renamed the Paul Lawrence Dunbar School in 1940), became a second segregated school for the district’s African American students. This building is now the "original" portion of the current District Office.
In 1929, in order to accommodate continued growth, the district completed additions to the Caesar Rodney School building, including a new gymnasium and additional classrooms.
By 1930, enrollment had climbed to 796 students which prompted the Board to construct a new eight classroom wing to the Caesar Rodney School in 1934 and a new auditorium, locker rooms, shops, a new office area and ten additional classrooms in 1940.
In 1938 Wilbur H. Jump retired as the district’s superintendent and William Simpson, the principal of the Caesar Rodney School, was promoted to superintendent, supervising a staff that by 1940 had grown to 30 teachers.
At this time, the district’s African American students were only being afforded an education in the district through grade eight. In 1939 the Dover Special School District opened the Booker T. Washington School, which also included ninth grade and accepted interested Caesar Rodney minority students. Those African American students wishing to continue their education beyond ninth grade at that time had to enroll in the Secondary School Department of Delaware State College, a situation that would continue until 1953 when the William W. Henry Comprehensive High School opened in Dover for minority students from throughout Kent County.
Despite the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling in the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case, which found "separate but equal" schooling unconstitutional, no efforts to desegregate the district schools took place throughout the decade of the 50’s. The only changes involving minority students that did occur were the addition of three more classrooms at Star Hill and the closing of the Dunbar School in 1957, thus consolidating all African American students at one location in the district.
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