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lawful for any teacher or trustee to have performed, in any school receiving its proportion of the school money, any religious service, ceremony, or forms whatsoever, except reading the Bible and repeating the Lord's Prayer.
The School Fund consists of stocks, bonds, and mortgages, amounting to between $700,000 and $800,000. In addition to the revenue from this source, the State annually makes an appropriation, and imposes a two-mill tax for the support of schools. If these various sums are not sufficient for school purposes, districts make up the deficit.
1873-'74. Amount appropriated by the State..... $77,375 52....$1,307,331 00 Amount of township school tax.... $403, 190 71.... $51,313 33 Amount received from tuition fees..... $81,181 92.... Amount raised for building and repairing school-houses. ...
841,593 47.... $660,715 32 Amount received from surplus revenue.
$35, 363 30 Amount of district school tax..
$442,345 48 Total...
$603,341 62....$2,497,068 43 NEW YORK.
Hon. Neil GILMOUR, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, was born in Paisley, Scotland, 1840, where he received a thorough school training. He came to this country at sixteen years of age, and immediately entering Union College, graduated in 1860, among the first four in his class. He provided himself with means to pursue his course by keeping a college bookstore. After graduating he taught in the Academy at Corning, N. Y., and studied law. He was subsequently admitted to the bar. He has twice been elected School Commissioner, and, on joint ballot of the Legislature in the spring of 1874, he was elected State Superintendent, to succeed Hon. Abram B. Weaver.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST.
NEW YORK was one of the original thirteen States. Her first Constitution, that of 1777, contains no allusion to schools. That of 1846 set aside the proceeds of all State lands as a common-school fund. The Constitution of 1846 declared inviolate the capital of several educational funds at that time existing.
In 1787, the Board of Regents of the University was created and empowered to incorporate colleges and academies. The powers of this Board have since been enlarged from time to time. In 1795 the first act for the maintenance and encouragement of common schools was passed by the Legislature. It made an annual appropriation of $50,000 for five years to the respective cities and towns, for instruction in the English branches. The supervisors were required to raise by tax onehalf of the amount for the same purpose. After four years, however, the Legislature ceased to make the appropriation. In 1805 the School Fund was established. In 1812 a commonschool law, which had been recommended by an educational commission, was adopted by the Legislature, and immediately went into effect, constituting the groundwork of the educational system to which the Empire State has justly pointed with pride. It provided for the division of the several towns of the State into school districts by three Commissioners, elected for that purpose; stipulated that the interest of the
school fund should be distributed on a basis of children from five to fifteen years of age, and expressly declared that each town should annually raise by tax for school purposes as much money as it received from the school fund. The whole system was placed under the superintendence of an officer designated by the council of appointment. In 1814, District Trustees were authorized to collect from parents and guardians the sums necessary to meet any deficiency in teachers' wages. In 1834, a portion of the revenue from the Literature Fund was set apart to be distributed by the Regents to such academies as should provide for the education of common-school teachers. In 1841 the Legislature authorized County Boards of Supervisors to appoint County Superintendents, who should exercise jurisdiction and supervision over schools. In 1844 the first Normal School in the State was established at Albany. In 1847 the office of County Superintendent was abolished, and the care and supervision of school affairs were intrusted to a single officer in each town. The office of Town Superintendent was in turn abolished in 1857, and District School Commissioners were provided for. Four years prior to this time (1853) what was known as the Union Free School Law was enacted. It enabled cities and villages hitherto divided into districts to consolidate for the purpose of maintaining free graded schools. In 1864 a bill passed the Legislature revising and consolidating the General Acts relating to Public Instruction. This act was amended in 1865 and 66, and again in 1867, when the Free School System of the State was fairly inaugurated.
PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM.
This system, modified in some respects by recurring legislation, is in force to-day. It is not inappropriately said to rest on territorial subdivisions of the State, known as the school districts—whose boundaries are defined and altered by the School Commissioner-and on Union Free School Districts, and the City Districts created by special acts.
The following are its principal features :
The State Superintendent is elected for three years by a joint ballot of the Legislature, receives an annual salary of $5,000,
and is annually allowed $3,000 for deputy, and between $8,000 and $9,000 for clerk hire. He is, ex officio, a Trustee of the People's College, and of the New York State Asylum for Idiots, a Regent of the University, and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the State Normal School. He has the supervision of all the schools in the State, provides for the education of all Indian children, makes annual reports to the Legislature, and performs all the duties and functions which naturally belong to the office of State Superintendent. He may remove School Commissioners or other officers for cause, grant teachers' certificates valid throughout the State, issue temporary licenses to teach, annul teachers' certificates granted by School Commissioners, or declare any diploma issued by the State Normal Schools ineffective and null as a qualification to teach a common school within the State. He decides all matters of appeal in all school questions arising in school districts, and his decision is final.
School Commissioners are elected for three years by the voters in their respective districts. These districts, as determined by law, number one hundred and fourteen in the State. The Commissioners receive an annual salary of $800 from the State ($200 quarterly), and $200 from Boards of Supervisors. The latter may allow extra compensation, which is done in several instances. Commissioners are prohibited under penalty of removal from recommending or procuring the use of any book, or school apparatus, or furniture, of any kind whatever, in any common school, or the purchase of any book for a district library. They are required to visit and examine the schools within their jurisdictions, to advise and counsel with the trustees, to look after the condition of the school-houses, and condemn such as are unfit for use, to recommend the proper studies, to examine and license teachers, to examine charges against teachers, and on sufficient proof annul their certificates, and annually to apportion and divide among the districts the school moneys apportioned to their respective counties, by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Town Clerks are required to carefully keep all books, maps, papers, and records of their office touching common schools, to record the certificates of apportionment of school moneys, to notify the Trustees of the filing of such certificates, to obtain from Trustees their annual reports, to distribute to Trustees all the books and blanks forwarded for their use, to file and keep the description of district boundaries, and when called upon to take part in the erection or alteration of school districts.
District Trustees, consisting of one or three, as the district may decide, are required to call meetings, to prepare tax lists and warrants, to purchase sites, and build or hire school-houses, to insure school-houses and libraries, and to report annually to their School Commissioner all school statistics, and such other information as may from time to time be required. They alone can legally prescribe text-books. A district which has decided to have a sole trustee cannot change again to three trustees.
Neighborhoods are empowered to choose Clerks and Trustees, the same as districts, and to build or purchase school-houses. There are only four of these separate neighborhoods in the State.
District Meetings are empowered to vote a tax not exceeding $25 a year for maps, globes, blackboards, and other school apparatus.
Common Schools throughout the State are free to all persons over five and under twenty-one years of age, residing in the district. Separate schools are provided for the Indians, and the school authorities of any city or incorporated village may establish schools for colored children whenever they deem it expedient to do so, subject to the same rules and regulations as the white schools. In 1866 the State Superintendent was specially charged with providing schools for the Indian children. These schools, as a general thing, are remarkably well attended. Out of nine hundred and seventy Indians between five and twentyone years of age, living on the Allegany and Cattaraugus Reservation in 1873, eight hundred and twenty attended school, and the average daily attendance was six hundred and twenty. ? A teacher to be fully qualified must have a diploma from the State Normal School, or a certificate from the Superintendent of