Education in Attleboro has a long history, dating back almost to the founding of the community in 1694.
There is no record of schools in Attleboro before 1716, according to A. Irvin Studley in his History of Attleboro, more than 20 years after the town’s incorporation. One Deacon Daggett was appointed the first schoolmaster, according to historical accounts.
At first, classes were split among various sections of town, seven months at a time. Some years, no school was held.
Progress toward what is today’s modern school system began in the 1800s when the town authorized money for the building of individual school houses. They were mostly one-room affairs with multiple grades.
Long before the population explosion that would require the construction of large school buildings, classes were conducted in small buildings in various neighborhoods. Town records from 1846 count no fewer than 23 schools.
The town’s first high school, divided into two parts, came into being in 1867, with one school on South Washington Street in what is now North Attleboro and the other on South Main Street, opposite what is now The Sun Chronicle.
In the 1870s, North Attleboro split from Attleboro and became a separate municipality with its own school system.
By the 1880s, school enrollment in Attleboro proper had reached 1,500 and climbing, paving the way for a building boom to accommodate an expanding number of schoolchildren.
The first decade of the 1900s saw the construction of Farmers, Richardson, Briggs Corner, Washington and Bliss Schools, followed by Tiffany School in 1912.
The burgeoning school population demanded a modern high school, and a site was selected for a three-story, Greek revival structure on County Street.
The building, completed in 1914, continued in service until the early 1960s, when a new structure was built on Rathbun Willard Drive.
With growing opportunities for jobs in the local jewelry industry and an expanding business community, manual training became a function of the school department.
At first, a “trade” school was established in the Ingraham Building on Union Street. The commitment to technical education would eventually culminate in a massive career and technical education component of the present high school, offering training in disciplines ranging from health care to auto mechanics.
As the 20th century progressed, the city was confronted by a need to modernize its existing collection of school buildings. Older buildings including Farmers, Bliss, Lincoln and Washington were closed or converted to other purposes.
The “new” high school on Rathbun Willard Drive would double in size by 1975, following an expansion prompted by increased enrollment. Later, twin elementary schools, Hill Roberts and Hyman Fine, and two new middle schools, Brennan and Wamsutta, were added to the existing high school, Coelho Middle School and Thacher, Willett and Studley elementary schools, creating the current line up of nine public school buildings.