In 2005, 2006, and 2011, Plano was designated the best place to live in the Western United States by CNN Money magazine. It was also selected as the safest city in America in 2010 and 2011 by Forbes. Plano schools consistently score among the highest in the nation. Plano was rated the 10th Best Suburb for Education in the Nation in 2014 due to having one of the lowest student-teacher ratios (14 to 1), a high school graduation rate of 94 percent and some of the highest test scores in the nation. It has been rated as the wealthiest city in the United States by CNN Money, and the United States Census Bureau declared Plano the wealthiest city of 2008 by comparing the median household income for all U.S. cities whose populations were greater than 250,000. The annual Plano Balloon Festival and the Plano International Festival are two of the city’s premiere cultural and entertainment events.
Settlers came to the area near present-day Plano in the early 1840s. Facilities such as a sawmill, a gristmill, and a store soon brought more people to the area. Mail service was established, and after rejecting several names for the budding town (including naming it in honor of then-President Millard Fillmore), the locals suggested the name Plano (from the Spanish word for “flat”), as a reference to the local terrain.
In 1872, the completion of the Houston and Central Texas Railway helped the city grow, and the city was officially incorporated in 1873. The population grew to more than 500 by 1874. In 1881, a fire raged through the central business district, destroying most of the buildings. The town was rebuilt and business again flourished through the 1880s. Also in 1881, the city assumed responsibility for what would eventually become Plano Independent School District (PISD), ending the days of Plano being served only by private schools.
During the 1980s, many large corporations moved their headquarters to Plano, including J. C. Penney and Frito-Lay, which helped the city grow. By 1990, the population reached 128,713, dwarfing the county seat of McKinney. In 1994, the city was recognized as an All-America City. By 2000, the population grew to 222,030, making it one of the largest suburbs of Dallas. Plano is completely locked in by other municipalities and cannot expand in area, and there is little undeveloped land remaining within the city limits.
The Plano Independent School District serves most of the city. Plano has a unique high school system, in which grades 9-10 attend a high school and grades 11-12 attend a senior high. There are three senior high schools (grades 11-12) in PISD; Plano East, Plano, and Plano West. In Newsweek’s 2012 list of best national high schools, Plano West was ranked as 63rd, Plano Senior as 108th, and Plano East as 243rd.
Small portions of Plano are served by the Lewisville Independent School District, Frisco Independent School District, and Allen Independent School District. In 2012, Plano Independent School District announced that 128 seniors were selected as National Merit Semifinalists.
In the 2013-14 school year, Plano ISD will opened two 4-year high school Academies, one focusing on STEAM (STEM education plus Media Arts) and the other on health science. Additionally, the district will modify its existing International Baccalaureate program to allow freshman and sophomores in the program to be housed at Plano East Senior High School.
In addition to Catholic primary and middle schools, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas operates John Paul II High School in Plano. Non-Catholic private schools in Plano include Plano Christian Academy, Great Lakes Academy, Spring Creek Academy, Prince of Peace Lutheran School, and Prestonwood Christian Academy. In addition, the Collin County campus of Coram Deo Academy is located in the One Church (previously Four Corners Church) facility in Plano.