Cave Creek's first school was near the creek on the Howard Ranch. In the late 1880's, it was moved to about where Cave Creek Road crosses New River Road today. With the boom in population during dam building days, the school was moved to a main road. Materials, labor, money and food were donated, and another room was added to the school house and another teacher hired.
According to various historical records, Cave Creek School District No. 23 was organized in 1886, and William Bailey was the first teacher at a salary of $65 per month. From 1897 to 1899 Alfred C. Lockwood taught 8 students, including his two younger brothers and a sister, while studying law. Judge Lockwood later served on the Arizona Supreme Court.
In 1913, school was discontinued because of a lack of children, but it was reorganized in September, 1930 as Cave Creek School District No. 93. In 1950, Cave Creek had "a little white (painted) school house run by Mrs. Charlotte L. Hawkins of Phoenix." The first Parent Teacher Association was formed during this time.
A new four-room school was completed and one room of the old school was designated to house the Cave Creek Branch Library in 1960. A small corral was built behind the school for students' horses. Another four-room school building was completed in 1964, at which time the corral was removed. By 1967, school enrollment had grown to 130 students with a staff of eight teachers. By 1970, 200 students attended Cave Creek School and the need for another school was apparent. Black Mountain Elementary School was completed in 1973 to educate older elementary students.
Construction of Cactus Shadows High School started in 1983 and a new grade was added each year with 57 students comprising the first graduating class in 1986. The same year the first graduates left Cactus Shadows High School, voters approved a $16.9 million bond for construction of a new Transportation Center, expansion of Black Mountain Elementary School, construction of a new middle school and Fine Arts Center. Desert Arroyo Middle School and the Cactus Shadows Fine Arts Center opened in 1989.
In 1992, voters again approved a bond, this time for $26 million. As part of this project, a new high school was constructed on the District's main 185-acre campus. The new school (still Cactus Shadows High School), located just south of the previous high school site, opened its doors in January 1995. The original Cave Creek School closed its doors in June of 1995.
The previous high school was converted to Desert Sun Elementary School and opened its doors on a new era, giving the District two 5th through pre-kindergarten schools on the main educational campus and opening in August 1995.
In January 2000, Desert Sun Elementary School moved to its current location. Half of the Desert Arroyo student body was moved to Sonoran Trails Middle School (the former Desert Sun Elementary School and current Black Mountain Elementary School).
Desert Willow Elementary School opened in 1999; Lone Mountain Elementary School opened in 2002; Horseshoe Trails Elementary School opened 2005; Sonoran Trails Middle School opened 2006; Black Mountain reopened at its current location in 2006
Desert Arroyo Middle School was closed in 2010; and the Cave Creek Elementary School was sold in 2014.