Page images
PDF
EPUB

aliens to keep awake during the hour when the school was in session. It seems to me that one of the best methods of dealing with the education of the adult will be to cooperate with the employer of the alien and work out his education as a part of his employment. Wherever that has been done the most conspicuous success has been attained. Not only has the alien profited, but the employer was more than compensated for the time given to the employé out of working hours.

This transfer of patriotic feeling from one country to another is no simple matter. We must make more than lip patriots. The first step that the school must emphasize, whether that school be in a regular school building or connected with the shop or factory, is a mastery of the English language; the second problem is to make the alien understand the opportunities, responsibilities, and limitations of liberty. Here is a tremendous task. Citizenship is not a special topic in the schools or the work of a separate department. Every recitation is a lesson in citizenship. It does not involve new institutions, new organizations, new texts, or new subject matter. It does mean a new attitude on the part of teachers and a new atmosphere in the school. Children, as well as adults, must be helpt to think thru the problems of the community and the relationship of the individual to the social group to which he belongs, as well as to the civic order. The problem in the last analysis is individual. The wealth in character of the state is the wealth in character of the individuals composing it. The public school has been an efficient agency in developing personal ideals. If that influence can be brought to bear upon the adult alien, there is little reason to doubt that America can and will be thoroly Americanized.

SCHOOL FINANCES AS A WAR-TIME PROBLEM

EDWARD L. TAYLOR, PRESIDENT, BOARD OF EDUCATION,

WILLIAMSPORT, PA. With the demand and necessity, on the one side, that the standard of efficiency of the public schools be maintained, that teachers' salaries be increast in proportion to the increast cost of living and to the services rendered, that all necessary equipment be provided for teachers and pupils, and, on the other side, that the strictest economy in all public affairs be observed, the school-board member is indeed confronted with a serious financial problem in these unusual times.

It will, of course, be admitted that the first requisite for efficient schools is efficient teachers. But we cannot, in the face of present conditions, retain many of our best teachers unless we provide for salary increases sufficient to cover at least the larger part of the increast cost in living expenses. All over the country we are losing thousands of our men and many of our best women teachers thru their entrance into the United States service or into some organization connected with the conduct of the war. We commend the patriotism of these noble young men and women, but their going makes it still more necessary, still more important, that thousands of other good teachers must not be allowed to abandon their profession for business if a fair recognition of their financial needs on the part of those in control will keep them in the schoolrooms.

In our city, since the outbreak of the war in 1914, we have increast the salary list nearly 35 per cent on the average amount paid our teachers. In consequence of this action the members of our teaching force feel that the board of directors and the superintendent of schools have endeavored to treat them as fairly as conditions will permit, and an excellent spirit of cooperation as well as enthusiasm and efficiency has been developt.

You may ask how we have found it possible to increase our average salary 35 per cent in four years. The answer is very simple. We have increast the tax rate 40 per cent in the same period, and I am glad to say that while there has been some criticism of this large increase the great majority of our citizens recognize the fact that the standard of efficiency in our schools cannot be maintained upon the financial basis which existed before the war.

Altho the increase in the teachers' salary list is the largest item of our increast expenses, we have found that there has been an enormous increase in the cost of all kinds of supplies and equipment. Our coal bill for 1917-18 shows an increase of 108 per cent over the year 1913-14. The advances in the cost of all kinds of stationery have been nearly as large, but by practicing the most rigid economy in the use of supplies we have saved considerable money in this item. The cost of minor repairs to buildings has shown a great increase as far as material is concerned, but we have cut the labor cost in two, compared with four years ago, thru the election of a superintendent of buildings who is a thoro mechanic and either makes the repairs himself or has them made by competent workmen under his direction. All improvements to buildings that can be postponed without affecting the efficiency of the schools are withheld for more favorable conditions.

The financing of new school buildings under present conditions is also a great problem for school authorities. The city that does not need a new building, either to provide for increase in the school population or to take the place of an obsolete, perhaps condemned, building is indeed fortunate.

In our city we built a very good high-school building four years ago at a cost, including equipment, of approximately $300,000. We had planned to use the old high-school building for either a grammar school or a junior high school, but it was destroyed by fire just before the new building was ready for occupancy. We then proposed to build two new buildings. We askt our citizens to approve a bond issue of $300,000 to provide these buildings, and as our people are always ready to sustain the board of education in its efforts to improve school facilities their approval of the loan was secured at the election held in November last.

It took some time to conclude all the legal proceedings incidental to the loan, and we found that in the meantime the price of labor and material had advanst to such an extent that it had become impossible to obtain two buildings of the construction and capacity needed for the amount we had been authorized to expend. Even tho we had a larger loan authorized there would still be obstacles to overcome, for while it might be possible to obtain the approval of the capital issues committee for at least one of our needed buildings, it is very doubtful if that committee would approve the erection of both of them.

Of still more importance than the financial problem of new school buildings just now is the necessity for observing the demand for the closest restriction of consumption for private, state, and municipal purposes of labor and raw material. Paul M. Warburg, at a recent meeting of the National Conference on War-Time Economy, held in New York and called under the initiative of the Academy of Political Science and the Bureau of Municipal Research, said:

Individuals will save in small things when state and city governments demonstrate their determination to save in the great ones. ... In time of war nothing is more dangerous than delay. The present emergency requires that the country be aroused to a thoro consciousness of the fact that whoever uses material, credit, labor, or transportation unnecessarily is placing a handicap upon his government in its progress toward victory.

In view of such a statement, made by a man recognized as an authority on economics, who is in close touch with governmental affairs, it seems imperative that the building of new schoolhouses be postponed if possible.

And yet it will probably be many years before schoolhouses can be constructed at less than such buildings would cost today. Mr. Replogle, government director of steel supply, recently made an interesting statement bearing upon this matter to a gathering of the principal manufacturers of the country. He said, “The building construction and plans of the United States government, incidentally, are right now some 20 per cent in excess of the total building construction of the United States for the threeyear period 1915, 1916, and 1917.” He went on to say that plans "are advancing into 1919 and 1920,” and he declared to the intelligent body addrest that he thought the construction plan of the government "far beyond the impression of almost any of you." Mr. Replogle's statement is a revelation to most of us and should have full consideration.

We should remember, however, that our good friends the school architects have not made any material advance in their commissions for preparing plans and specifications, and the wise board of school directors in districts where new buildings are needed will employ an architect and have their plans drawn and ready for the contractors' bids when the word is flasht that Kaiser Bill and his bloodthirsty Huns have been forst to sue for peace and the war is at an end.

And finally I appeal to school authorities all over the land to stand for efficiency in the public schools, to oppose the lowering of the standard in any manner, to have the courage to make such advance in tax levies as may be required to meet advance in the cost of the maintenance of the schools. The school-board member who does these things faithfully is a true patriot and is performing for his country a great service in these critical times when men of intelligence and courage are needed.

SCHOOL BUDGETS AND SCHOOL FINANCE

MARVIN E. GRISWOLD, PRESIDENT, BOARD OF EDUCATION, ERIE, PA.

In considering the subject of budgets and finance it is particularly important to have before one sufficient statistics of what has been done in previous years, so that there can be some intelligent comparisons as to both receipts and expenditures.

I have been a member of the board of education of the city of Erie for approximately eight years, and during that time I fail to recollect or remember that we have had from our state board of education any assistance, or any statistics that would be of any help, or any communications giving us assistance along the lines of what the legitimate expense of operating a modern school should be.

It would seem to me that the state board could well afford to assemble a financial statement of the various school districts, not only of this state but of other states, and put it out in the form of a primer that would be of decided assistance to the board members of the local boards in fixing the estimates and expenditures in their several communities.

If we had some statistics that would give us the cost per capita for education in the various cities, groupt according to size, it would throw considerable light on the subject of how much we ought to spend, or could spend, if we were going to keep up with the progressive cities or to stay back with the unprogressive ones.

In making up a budget it is well to have the expenditures subdivided under the various classifications. I think that in Erie we have workt out along this line a system that is exceptionally good. We subdivide our expenditures into eight different heads, or groups, numbered and named as follows:

EXPENDITURES (10) General Administration, (20) Instruction, (30) Operation of School Plant, (40) Maintenance of School Plant, (50) Auxiliary Agencies, (60) Miscellaneous Expenses, (70) Outlays for Acquisition and Construction, (80) Debt and Debt Service.

We have drawn up on a sheet under these eight different heads the amounts we have appropriated each year for four or five years previous to compare with the amount of the estimates or requirements for expenditures under these heads for the coming year, and this shows graphically under each head the yearly increase or decrease in cost.

On the receipt or opposite side of the ledger we subdivide into two general heads, non-revenue and revenue. Numbering and naming the heads, we subdivide them as follows:

RECEIPTS (120) Non-Revenue: Sale of Bonds, Temporary Loan, Sale of Property, Sale of Leases, Subscriptions, Balance on Hand.

(140) Revenue: State, Bequests, Taxes (81, 91, and 103 mills), Rents, Interest on Daily Balances, Non-Resident Tuition, General.

This shows us what the receipts are to be. These receipts keep changing by the increase or decrease of the amount of bonds sold and of the amount of tax levied. The other items will naturally be practically stationary and can easily be estimated.

Farther on in the budget we go into the details of these subdivisions under each general head, itemizing with considerable detail to show what each particular item is, and what is its estimated cost.

In order to get all this information together we send out, about three months in advance, blank sheets to all the departments requesting them to submit estimates and details of what they think is necessary in their several departments for the coming year. These estimates are then assembled and placed in the proper sections or subdivisions.

After this is all assembled in one book it is then the province of the Finance Committee to go over this entire budget in detail and study each item carefully to see what should be eliminated or what should be added.

During the deliberations of the Finance Committee on the budget it is very necessary that we have present a representative of each of the various departments, so that we can get their views on each individual item as it is considered. It is also very necessary to have before us the exact amount of what has been spent under each division in previous years; also actual statistics of the number of pupils to be served in comparison with the number served in previous years.

With careful study of the records and with the knowledge on the part of the school directors of what the real needs of the schools are, an intelligent and workable estimate, or budget, can be workt out.

In a recent issue of the School Board Journal I notist an article by Dr. Ballou, assistant superintendent of schools in Boston, in which he states that in his opinion "efficient finance in a city school system depends primarily on a reasonable amount of money for the needs of the schools and a rational plan for its distribution.”

An efficient and carefully studied budget certainly meets the idea of a rational plan for distribution and does not leave the matter for haphazard expenditure during the fiscal year.

« PreviousContinue »