The Coalinga-Huron Unified School District serves diverse rural communities on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The incorporated cities of Huron and Coalinga lie on either side of Interstate 5, a main artery between San Francisco and Los Angeles. As of 2012, Coalinga had a population of 16,789 and Huron 6,798, though the Huron population can increase dramatically during harvest seasons.
Several small, unincorporated communities, some at considerable distance from the high school, are also served, as well as a handful of large and small ranches. CHUSD operates an extensive bus system to transport students from Huron and outlying communities to Coalinga High School and other sites within the district. In 2011, the estimated average annual household income was $42,988 for Coalinga and $20,965 for Huron. An estimated 30% of residents of Coalinga under the age of 18 are below the poverty line, compared with nearly 40% for Huron.
Both communities, like most communities in the Valley, owe their existence to the railroad. Coalinga was, at one time, the western terminus of rail service running east to Visalia and Fresno. One of the few 19th century mining towns that survived into the 21st century, Coalinga originally provided low-grade coal for the railroad and other enterprises, but became a boom town at the turn of the last century with the discovery of large oil fields in the area. Oil has continued to be a major industry here, with long periods of fluctuations in demand for the particularly heavy form of crude oil that local wells produce.
Agriculture around the city had originally centered around grazing, but with the arrival of canal water in 1972, orchards and row crops became a fixture of the local landscape and economy. A further boost to the local economy came in the 1990’s with the construction of Pleasant Valley State Prison and, a decade later, Coalinga State Hospital – both located approximately five miles
out of town.
Coalinga High School was built in 1938, replacing two earlier high schools. All Coalinga city schools are located on or around Sunset Street near the center of the city, with four elementary schools, Coalinga Middle School, and the high school. Coalinga College, which adjoins CHUSD property, was established in 1932. Later renamed West Hills Community College, it serves
students from Coalinga, Huron, Mendota, Firebaugh, Lemoore, and Avenal. A large Lemoore campus was established in the past decade.
From WASC Self-Study Report 2013 – 2014
Visit May 4-5, 2014