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a district management of schools, than there would be in a district management of the poor or of the roads. I believe in local self-government, but I believe also that by restoring to the towns the complete responsibility for the common schools you tend to increase the public interest in town affairs, to invigorate the local public life, and to encourage the development of a watchful and intelligent public opinion without which you can have po self-government that will not fail of thorough success. In one sense the change effected by this bill is a very slight one. In the first place it substitutes the authority of one committee elected in annual town meeting for the dual and conflicting authority of school visitors and district committee men. There is certainly nothing very terrifying about this change. We should think a private business pretty poorly organized if the man who superintended it had nothing to say about the employment of workmen, and if the employer of the workmen never went near the work or consulted the superintendent. But that is just the principle on which we manage our schools. The acting school visitor almost always knows something about education, and on that account is chosen to inspect the schools. The district committee man in most country towns is not chosen because he knows anything about education, nor does he ever go near his school. But he hires and dismisses teachers at his own pleasure and practically the school visitor has nothing to say about it.
In the second place this bill substitutes the town meeting for the little district meeting. There is certainly nothing very alarming about that.
In the third place it makes all the property of the town pay the same rate of taxes. There is certainly nothing but justice in that, yet these are all the changes which this bill makes.
The importance of the measure to my mind lies in the fact that these changes, slight as they are, involve the substitution of a good organization for one which is unsound in principle and inefficient in operation. We cannot, by passing this bill, legislate good schools into the places of bad ones.
The responsibility for the character of the schools is still left entirely with the local communities.
But by removing the obstacles which a bad system of school management now creates we shall certainly bring nearer the day when every child in the State shall enjoy that opportunity of a good common school education which is our shame to anywhere fail of providing.
LEGISLATION. The following Acts relating to education were passed at the January, 1887, session of the General Assembly.
An Act concerning Education. The agents appointed by the State Board of Education, in accordance with the provisions of section three of chapter one hundred and twenty-four of the public acts of 1886 (page 624), may be directed by said board to enforce the provisions of law requiring the attendance of children in school and to perform any duties necessary or proper for the due execution of the duties and powers of the board.
An Act concerning the Property of Union School Districts.
SECTION 1. Whenever any town shall have assumed control of and appraised the school property as provided in section five, chapter six, title eleven of the general statutes, the town may, by vote in town meeting, extend the time in which the tax payers of any district or districts shall be required to pay the excess of assessment over the appraised value of the property in such district for a period not exceeding five years; and all the property belonging to the school districts over which any town has assumed or shall assume control shall be vested in such town, to be held for school purposes so long as so required, and may be sold and deeded by said town when not required for school purposes. SEC. 2.
Whenever any town has voted or hereafter shall vote to assume control of all the schools, as provided in chapter six, title eleven of the general statutes, in case there is a joint dis
trict the selectmen of the towns out of which such joint district is formed shall meet within ten days after receiving a written request for such meeting, signed by the first selectman of either of said towns, and appraise the school-house and other school property owned and used by said joint district, and determine what proportion is owned by the inhabitants of the towns residing in said district. If the several boards of selectmen shall not agree, the same shall be determined by a judge of the superior court upon application of either of the boards of selectmen, and his decision shall be final. The proportion belonging to the taxpayers of the town in which the property is not located, after deducting the indebtedness of the district, shall be paid to the treasurer of such town by the treasurer of the town in which such property is located, and the same shall be remitted to the tax-payers of said town.
Section two, of chapter one hundred and six of the public acts. of 1886 (page 611), is hereby amended by striking out from the second line of said section the word “ July," and inserting in place thereof the word “ June,” so that said section will read: The school visitors and selectmen in each town shall meet as a joint board on the second Tuesday in June in each year for the election of officers and the transaction of any other business relating to schools.
may, in addition to the text-books prescribed according to the provisions of section one, chapter four, title eleven of the general statutes, prescribe the use of other series of books to be used as text-books in reading; provided, such additional series are purchased by the district or town and the use thereof furnished free to the scholars.
Sec. 2. This act shall take effect from its passage.
An Act amending an Act relating to the Instruction of
Children. SECTION 1. Section two of chapter ninety of the public acts of 1885, is amended to read as follows: Children under thirteen years of age who have attended school twenty-four weeks of the preceding twelve months, and children between thirteen and fourteen who have attended school twelve weeks of the preceding twelve months, according to the requirements of chapter eighty (page 162) of the public acts of 1882, and children over fourteen years of age, shall not be subject to the requirements of the preceding section while lawfully employed to labor at home or elsewhere, but this section shall not be construed to exempt any child who is enrolled as a member of a school from any rule concerning irregularity of attendance which has been enacted or may be enacted by the town school committee, board of visitors, or board of education having control of the school.
SEC. 2. Section three of the same chapter is amended to read as follows: Each week's failure on the part of any person to comply with the provisions of the preceding sections shall be a distinct offence, punishable with a fine not exceeding five dollars. Said penalty shall not be incurred when it appears that the child is destitute of clothing suitable for attending school, and the parent or person having control of such child is unable to provide such clothing, or the mental or physical condition of such child is such as to render its instruction inexpedient or impracticable. Prosecutions under this act shall be conducted and judgment may be suspended as provided in section two of chapter eighty (page 162) of the public acts of 1882, and certificates shall be furnished and required as provided in section four of
An Act concerning Schools. SECTION 1. Attendance of children at a school other than a public school shall not be regarded as compliance with the provisions of the laws of the State requiring parents and other persons having control of children to cause them to attend school, unless the teachers or persons having control of such school shall keep a register of attendance in form and manner prescribed by the State Board of Education for the public schools, which register shall at all times during school hours be open to the inspection of the secretary and agents of the State Board of Education, and shall make such reports and returns concerning the schools under their charge to the secretary of the State Board of Education as are required from the school visitors concerning the public schools, except that no report concerning expenses shall be required.
SEC. 2. It shall be the duty of the secretary of the State Board of Education to furnish to the teachers or persons having charge of any school, on their request, such registers and blanks for returns as may be necessary for compliance with the provisions of the preceding section.
The following Special Acts were passed :
[63.] Incorporating the Wapping School Society of South Windsor. Resolved by this Assembly :
SECTION 1. That so much of the territory of the town of South Windsor as constituted the Wapping School Society till said school society was abolished by act of the general assembly, 1855, to-wit: the territory of the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth school districts of said town, and that part of the tenth school district which lies in said town and that part of the Oakland school district of the town of Manchester which lies in said town of South Windsor, with the inhabitants thereof, be and are hereby made and constituted a body politic and corporate for the purpose hereinafter named, to be known as the Wapping School Society of South Windsor.
SEC. 2. Said school society shall have power to establish and maintain a school of higher grade within its limits, and for such