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INSTRUCTIONS, DIGEST & EXPOSITION
WITH FORMS, &o., FOR THE USE OF SCHOOL OFFICERS.
OF THE SCHOOL FUND AND STATE TAX, AND THEIR APPORTIONMENT AND DISTRIBUTION AMONG THE SEVERAL COUNTIES, CITIES AND TOWNS.
Common Schools in the several school districts of this state are Free to all persons residing in the district, over four and under twenty-one years of age; and all children enumerated in the annual reports of the trustees of the several districts are legally EnTitled to attend the schools of such district. Children whose parents or guardians are non-residents of the district in which they may desire to attend school, may be admitted into such school, with the approbation in writing of the trustees thereof, or of a majority of them. If any terms of admission are intended to be imposed, other than those common to resident children of the district, such terms must be distinctly specified at the time of such admission: otherwise it will be presumed that the non-resident children so admitted are to share in all the privileges of the school with resident children of the district.
The capital of the common school fund, consisting of the proceeds of the sales of all lands belonging to the state, is, by the constitution, to be " preserved inviolate," and its revenues to be applied to the support of common schools. This fund amounted on the 30th of September last, to $2,243,563.36; consisting of bonds for lands sold, and for loans, bank stock, state stock, &c, yielding an annual revenue of about $135,000 for distribution among the several school districts.
By chapter 237 of the Laws of 1838, the sum of $110,000 was annually appropriated from the revenue of the United States Deposite Fund, together with an additional amount of $55,000 for the purchase of district libraries. The aggregate amount therefore to be annually apportioned and distributed from the common school fund is $300,000. The constitution also provides that "the sum of twenty-five thousand dollars of the revenues of the United States Deposite Fund shall each year be;appropriated to and made a part of the capital of the said common school fund;" and by § 13 of chapter 382 of the laws of 1849, "whenever any money is paid into the treasury of the state for or on account of the common school fund, it shall be the duty of the comptroller to credit the common school fund with interest on the sum so paid in, at the rate of six per cent, per annum, for the time the same shall remain in the treasury."
By the "Act to establish Free Schools throughout the State," it is provided that there shall hereafter be raised by tax, in each and every year, upon the real and personal estate within this state, the sum of eight hundred thousand dollars, to be levied, assessed and collected in the mode prescribed by the revised statutes, relating to the assessment and collection of taxes, and when collected be paid over to the respective county treasurers, subject to the order of the state superintendent of common schools, who is required to ascertain the portion of said sum to be assessed and collected in each of the several counties of this state, by dividing the said sum among the several counties, according to the valuation of real and personal estate therein, as it shall appear by the assessment of the year next preceding the one in which said sum is to be raised, and to certify to the clerk of each county, before the tenth day of July in each year, the amount to be raised by tax in such county; and it is made the duty of the several county clerks to deliver to the board of supervisors of their respective counties,, a; copy of such certificate, on the first day of their annual session, and of the board of supervisors to assess such amount upon the real and personal estate of such county, in the manner provided by law for the assessment and collection of taxes.
The state superintendent of common schools is required on or before the first day of January in every year, to apportion and divide, one-third of the sum so raised by general tax, and onethird of all other moneys appropriated to the .supportcqf common schools, among the several school districts, parts of districts, and separate neighborhoods in this state, from which reports shall have been received in accordance with law, in the following manner, viz: to each separate neighborhood belonging to a school district in some adjoining state, a sum of money equal to thirty-three cents for each child in such neighborhood (between the ages of four and twenty-one); but the sum so to be apportioned and paid to any such neighborhood, is in no case, to exceed the sum of twenty-four dollars, and the remainder of such one-third is to be apportioned and divided equally among the several districts; and the state superintendent of common schools is, by proper regulations and instructions to be prescribed by him, is to provide for the payment of such moneys to the trustees of such separate neighborhoods and school districts. It is also the duty of the state superintendent of common schools, on or before the first day of January, in every year, to apportion and divide the remaining two-thirds of the said amount of eight hundred thousand dollars, together with the remaining two-thirds of all other moneys appropriated by the state for the support of common schools among the several counties, cities and towns of the state, in the mode now prescribed by law for the division and apportionment of the income of the common school fund; and the share of the several towns and wards so apportioned and divided, is to be paid over, on and after the first Tuesday in February, in each year, to the several town superintendents of common schools, and ward or city officers, entitled by law to receive the same.
When the census, or returns, upon which an apportionment is to be made, shall be so far defective, in respect to any'county, city, or town, as to render it impracticable for the superintendent to ascertain the share of school moneys, which ought then to be apportioned to such county, city, or town, he is required to ascertain, by the best evidence in his power, the facts upon which the ratio of such apportionment shall depend, and to make the apportionment accordingly; and whenever, in consequence of the division of a town, or the erection of a new town, in any county, the apportionment then in force shall become unjust, as between two or more of the towns of such county, he is required to make anew apportionment of the school moneys next to be distributed amongst such towns, ascertaining by the best evidence in his power, the facts upon which the ratio of apportionment as to such towns, shall depend. He is also to certify each apportionment made by him, to the comptroller.
Under these provisions the sum of $1,100,000 is annually to be apportioned by the state superintendent among the several counties, cities and towns, for the support of common schools; of which the sum of $55,000 is to be applied to library purposes, and the residue exclusively to the payment of the wages of duly qualified teachers, in the mode prescribed by law.
Treasurers of counties have no right to deduct from the amount of the school moneys apportioned to each town a commission of one per cent. They are unquestionably entitled to such a commission under §26, 1 R. S. 370 on the moneys received and paid by them for the use of the common schools; but they have no right to diminish the amount of the moneys placed in their hands for distribution, under an apportionment by the superintendent. Their commission is a charge upon the county, and not upon the common school fund.— Com. School Dec. 279.
In addition to the funds thus provided by the general law, a large proportion of the towns are annually in the receipt of local funds, arising from the proceeds of the sales or leases of gospel and school lots belonging to such towns, reserved under an act passed in 1789, by the surveyor-general in the original allotment of townships; from the appropriation of moneys remaining in the hands of the overseer of the poor of towns in those counties in which the distinction between town and county paupers has been abolished, to the support of the schools, by a vote of the inhabitants at their annual town meeting; and in some instances from testamentary bequests and voluntary donations, for the benefit of common schools. In most of the cities of the state, too, as will be seen hereafter, large sums are directed by special acts to be raised for the support of the public schools.
TOWN SUPERINTENDENTS OF COMMON SCHOOLS.
By the first section of chap. 133, Laws of 1843, the offices of Commissioners and Inspectors of common schools were abolished; and by the first section of chap. 480, Laws of 1847, it is provided that th«re shall hereafter be elected in each of the towns of this state, at the same time and in the same manner that other town officers are chosen, an officer to be denominated "Town Superintendent of common schools." It is his duty, on or before the first Monday of November after his election, to execute to the supervisor of his town and file with the town clerk, a bond, with one or more sufficient sureties, to be approved of by said supervisor by endorsement over his signature on said bond, in the penalty of double the amount of school money which his town received from all sources during the year preceding that for which he shall have been elected, conditioned for the faithful application and legal disbursement of all the school money coming into his hands during his term of office, and for the faithful discharge of all the duties of said office. In case such bond shall not be executed and filed within the time herein specified, the office of such Town Superintendent is to be deemed vacant, and such or any other vacancy is to be filled by any three Justices of the Peace of the same town by a warrant under their hands and seals; and the persons so appointed are, (by the provisions of § 14, chap. 382, Laws of 1849,) to hold their offices until the first Monday of November following the next annual town meeting. The justices making such appointment are to cause their warrant to be filed with the town clerk and to give immediate notice to the person appointed.
If there are less than three justices residing in the town in which such vacancy occurs, the resident justice or justices may associate with themselves one or more justices from any adjoining town. 1 Rev. St. 598, §56.
Every town superintendent is required on the execution of his bond, as above provided, to enter upon the duties of his office on the first Monday of'November succeeding his election, and is to hold his office for two years thereafter; and whenever the office of town superintendent shall be vacant for any cause, or before the time of the annual town meeting, shall be held by a person appointed by the Justices as above provided, the electors of the town at such town meeting are required to choose a town superintendent to fill such vacancy or to supercede such appointee; and the person so elected is to enter upon the duties of the office on the first Monday of November following his election, and to hold his office for the term of two years.
In the interim between the town meeting and the first Monday of November following, the office is to be filled by appointment by the Justices.
Town superintendents are declared by law to be ineligible to the offices of Trustee of School District, Supervisor, or Town Clerk.
The powers and duties formerly by law conferred upon the trustees of the Gospel and school lots in the several towns of the state, are, by the first section of chap. 186, Laws of 1846, vested in and to be exercised by town superintendents.
Town superintendents are entitled to receive $1,25 per day for every day actually and necessarily devoted by them, in their official capacity, to the service of the town in which they are elected, to be paid in like manner as other town officers are paid.
Town superintendents are required, immediately after the commencement of their official term, to report their names and post office address to the Department.
The various powers and duties appertaining to the office of Town Superintendents, may be arranged under the following heads:
1st. The formation and alteration of districts. 2d. The apportionment and payment of public money. 3d. The inspection and licensing of teachers, and the visitation and supervision of schools.
4th. The making and transmission of their annual reports. 5th. The collection of certain penalties and forfeitures. 6th. Miscellaneous duties under various provisions of law.
I. OF THE FORMATION AND ALTERATION OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS.
By the 43d section of the act of 1847, above referred to, it is provided that "in the erection or alteration of a school district, the trustees of any district to be affected thereby may apply to the supervisor and town clerk to be associated with the Town Superin