On January 25, 1954, Payne School on the corner of Wheeler (now Harry Street) and Edwards was opened for use. The school was named for David L. Payne, twice a member of the Kansas Legislature and one of the well-known figures in the opening of the Oklahoma Territory.
Payne opened with an enrollment of 413 pupils from the neighboring Stanley and Meridian Schools, with Oscar Carr as the principal of both Payne and Meridian. In the fall of 1954, there were 425 students enrolled, and Edward Crumrine was appointed principal. On Sunday, October 3, 1954, the Payne staff and Payne PTA, with Mrs. William Rosiere as president, hosted an open house for the public.
The peak enrollment between the years 1954 to 1969 was 664 students in 1958, and from 1957 through 1964 the enrollment remained above 600. Twelve portables were added during the years 1955 to 1959, of which nine were removed upon completion of a major addition to the building in 1961. The new addition added seven classrooms, a multipurpose room, library, special activities room, office area and kitchen.
Payne was a Title I school from the start of the federal program under P.L. 89-10 through the 1994-95 school term. With the creation of middle schools in 1988, the sixth grade program was moved from the building, easing overcrowding conditions. The school enrollment declined from its peak enrollment in the early 1960s but remains around 400. The school began a Chapter 1 schoolwide program during the 1994-95 school year which included a longer school day and school year as well as the extensive use of technology integrated within the curriculum.
In April 2000, the voters of the Wichita School District approved a $284.5 million bond issue. The projects began in the fall of 2000 and were completed over the next five years. The plan built 19 multipurpose rooms, upgraded science labs, replaced portable classrooms with permanent construction, improved handicap accessibility to all buildings, rebuilt five existing elementary schools, added a new elementary and middle school, expanded seven other elementary schools and provided nine new libraries as well as the expansion of nine others. Building infrastructure in 82 buildings was also upgraded, including the replacement of antiquated plumbing, updates and expansion of electrical systems, replacement of inefficient or broken windows and doors, upgrades of heating and cooling systems, and asbestos abatement when required.
Brecko Construction Co. was contracted to complete the projects at Dodge and Payne, in which Payne received a new addition including four classrooms and a new student support area. Payne's library was also expanded, and certain hallways had unsafe glass removed. The Bond project celebration was held April 11, 2006.