History of L'Ouverture

  • Under the principalship of Fred C. West, a 15-room school located at 13th and Mosley was established in 1912. The school was named after the famous French Negro General of Haiti, Toussaint L'Ouverture. Approximately 300 pupils were enrolled. L'Ouverture district included black children in grades K-6 living north of 11th Street and west of Santa Fe and all black children in grades seven and eight. Children living a long distance from school were transported. In 1923, three additional rooms were built, and later a playroom in the basement was converted into two classrooms.


    Upon Mr. West's retirement in 1937, Ferdinand L. Barnett was transferred from Dunbar to L'Ouverture as principal. Under his leadership, plans for a new L'Ouverture were formulated; however, his death in 1947 prevented Mr. Barnett from seeing his dream come true. The plans were realized in 1951 under John R. Carter, principal (1947-67), when the new L'Ouverture located at 1539 Ohio was completed. The building consisted of 17 classrooms, library, office, health room and other facilities. Excerpts from “A History of Wichita Public Schools Buildings” Page 32 of 85 Included on the staff were the librarian, nurse, secretary and instrumental music teacher who served scheduled days at the school. Enrollment at the opening was 620 in grades K-6. The 1949-50 school year was the last year grades seven and eight were enrolled at L'Ouverture.


    When Little School was opened in 1954, the east boundary became Hydraulic, and 19th Street became the boundary between Skinner and L'Ouverture. When Skinner School (21st and Hydraulic) was closed, the north boundary of L'Ouverture was moved from 19th to 27th Street. Peak enrollment of 658 was reached in 1953-54, and three portable units were added. Another peak of 500 in 1958-59 led to a boundary change of 11th to 12th Street between Dunbar and L'Ouverture. After that year, declining enrollments reflected the eastward movement of population and gradual industrialization of L'Ouverture district. A program of voluntary integration was initiated at L'Ouverture in 1970-71. Sixty-three white families voluntarily participated in the experiment, and the school enrollment for the year was 28 percent white. In 1971-72, the school was integrated through the transportation of black children to schools outside the area and white children to L'Ouverture. The enrollment was stabilized at approximately 250-300 pupils with about 75 percent white children.


    In 1992, L'Ouverture became L'Ouverture Computer Technology Magnet Elementary School. Enrollment rose to 375 students, 40 percent of those African-American. The building includes an extensive computer network, television station, and telecommunication connections. 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.


    With the Bond issue, L'Ouverture received a new addition including six classrooms, a multipurpose room and a kitchen, and renovations to the student support area. To complete these projects, the district utilized the services of PBA Architects and Compton Construction Corp. L'Ouverture's technology was upgraded in 2007 to provide our 2:1 students to computer ratio, a laptop for every teacher, and projector and SMARTboard for every classroom. Classrooms were also equipped with digital cameras and video cameras. Students participate in global collaboration projects through the use of a video conferencing Polycom Unit.