Page images

subsequent meeting, may pass a resolution, by a majority of those present, in the ordinary mode, directing the trustees to sell the house, according to No. 96 ante.

7. QUALIFICATIONS OF VOTERS, Great difficulty has been heretofore experienced in ascertaining the requisite legal qualifications for voters in school district meetings. The act of 1847, has removed this difficulty by defining them particularly, and has pointed out the means of ascertaining the right of any individual to vote in such meetings, by a challenge, $59, 60, 61, (Nos. 81, 82, 83.)

The following general qualifications are required in all cases : 1. The voter must be a male. 2. Of full age, that is, twenty-one years old, or more. 3. He must be an actual resident of the district.

In addition to the above, the voter must possess one or other of the following qualifications:

4. He must be entitled by law to hold land in this state, and must own or hire real property in the district, subject to taxation for school purposes ; or,

5. He must be authorized to vote at town meetings of the town in which the district, or part of a district is situated-and in addition thereto must have paid a rate bill for teachers? wages in the district within one year preceding, or must have paid a district tax within two years preceding; or must be owner of personal property liable to be taxed for school purposes in the district, .exceeding fifty dollars in value, exclusive of what is exempt from execution.

Under the above 4th division are included two classes of persons--citizens owning or hiring real property, subject to taxation, and aliens not naturalized, who have filed the affidavit prescribed by § 16 of title 1, chap. 1, part 2, Rev. Stat. of their intention te become citizens, and of having taken the necessary incipient measures for that purpose, and who own or hire real property in the district subject to taxation for school purposes. It does not extend to those who have personal property, but neither own nor hire real property. The provision was intended to meet the case of residents, who although not entitled to vote at town meetings, may have a strong interest in the proceedings of district school meetings.

Any resident of the district, who owns or hires real estate liable to taxation in the district, whether he pays the tax on such property himself or not, and whatever may be its value, and whether he holds it by a written or verbal lease, (if for one year or less) is a legal voter, at any district meeting, even though he may not have resided either in the State or County for a sufficient length of time to enable him to vote at town meetings or elections.

In reference to the above 5th division, those "citizens of the several towns in this state, qualified by the constitution to vote for elective officers," are included, provided they possess the other requi



site qualifications. Of course, persons claiming to vote at district meetings under this qualification must have been inbabitants of the state for one year, of the county for six months immediately preceding, and mustthen be actual residents of the town. To these must be added some one of the qualifications above specified in division 5. By $ 60 and $ 61,(Nos 82 and 83. Dit is provided that "If any person offering to vote at any school district meeting, shall be challenged as unqualified by any legal voter in such district, the chairman presiding at such meeting shall require the person so offering, to make the following declaration : " I do declare and affirm that I am an actual resident of this school district, and that I am qualified to vote at this meeting." And every person making such declaration shall be permitted to vote on all questions proposed at such meeting; but if any person shall refuse to make such declaration, his vote shall be rejected.

· Every person who shall wilfully make a false declaration of his right to vote at a district meeting, upon being challenged as herein before provided, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding one year, nor less than six months, at the discretion of the court; and any person voting at any district meeting without being qualified, shall, on conviction, be subject to a fine of ten dollars, to be sued for and recovered by the trustees of the district for its use, and with costs of suit, before any justice of the peace.”

The proceedings of district meetings where illegal votes are alleged to have been given, will not be set aside, unless it is shown on appeal, Ist, that such votes were actually illegal; 2d, that they affected the result; and 3d, that they were legally challenged upon being offered, or that they were not at the time known to be illegal.

8. RECONSIDERATION OF PROCEEDINGS. The inhabitants of school districts may reconsider and repeal, alter and modify their proceedings at any time before they have been carried into effect, either wholly or in part. But the intention to do so, should be explicitly set forth in the notice of the meeting called for that purpose. When, however, contracts have actually been entered into, liabilities incurred, or expenditures of money had, in the prosecution of any measure directed by the district, a reconsideration will not be sanctioned, as no means exists to indemnify those who may be losers thereby.

9. TAXES SHOULD BE SPECIFICALLY VOTED. Where a tax is voted by the inhabitants for any purpose, the specific amount of the tax, and the particular purpose for which it is designed, should be fully and clearly stated. And where several objects of expenditure are to be provided for, the amount to be raised for each should be expressed in the resolution, in order that the district and the trustees may know the precise extent of their liability, and the mode of its application. There may be cases, however, where the necessary amount to be raised, cannot be ascertained with any approach to accuracy; and in such cases the district may direct the performance of specific acts by the trustees, or authorize them to incur such expenses as may be necessary to the accomplishment of a particular object to be specified; and the trustees are then authorized by şi09, of the act of 1817, (No. 129,) to raise such amount by tax upon the district in the same manner as if the definite sum to be raised had been voted. This general delegation of authority should, however, he resorted to only in cases of necessity.



THESE officers are to be chosen by the inhabitants of the district entitled to vote, at their first meeting, and thereafter at any annual or special meeting legally convened, whenever there is a vacancy, by expiration of their term of office or otherwise. In case of the existence of a vacancy, by the death, refusal to serve, removal out of the district, or incapacity of the incumbent, unless such vacancy is supplied by a district meeting within one month thereafter, it is the duty of the Town Superintendent of common schools to appoint some person to supply such vacancy in which case the person so appointed holds his office for the unexpired term, $ 63, (No 85.) The expiration of their term of office, also creates a vacancy; and if, for any reason, the annual meeting passes over without the election of officers, ample provision is made, (see $ 66-68, (No. 88-90, for the calling of a special meeting to supply such vacancy.

By $ 79, (No. 100,) every person duly chosen or appointed to any such office, who without sufficient cause shall refuse to serve therein, shall forfeit the sum of five dollars; and every person so chosen or appointed, and not having refused to accept, who shall neglect to perform the duties of his office, shall forfeit the sum of ten dollars.

By $ 80, (No 101,) "any person chosen or appointed to any such office, may resign the same by presenting his resignation to the Town Superintendent of the town where such officer shall reside, who is authorized for sufficient cause shown to him to accept the sume, and the acceptance of such resignation shall be a bar to the recovery of either of the penalties mentioned in the preceding section. The Town Superintendent accepting the resignation shall give notice thereof to the clerk, or to one of the trustees of the school district to which the officer resigning shall belong."

By § 6 of the act of 1847, (No. 30.) “no Town Superintendent of common schools, shall be eligible to the office of trustee of a school district; and no person chosen a trustee, can hold the office of district clerk."

By 9 63 of the act of 1847, (No. 85,) it is provided that “the trustees of each of the 'several school districts next hereafter to be chosen, shall be divided by lot into three classes, to be numbered one, two and three; the term of office of the first class shall be one year; of the second, two of the third, three; and one trustee only shall thereafter annually be elected, who shall hold liis office for three years, and until a successor shall be duly elected or appointed. In case of a vacancy in the office of either of the trustees, during the period for which he or they shall have been respectively elected, the person or persons chosen or appointed to fill such vacancy shall hold the office only for the unexpired term so becoming vacant."

This extension of the official term of trustees to three years, combined with he annual choice of one of their number, is a very important improvement of the system, securing as it does, uniformity, stability and harmony in the councils of the district, and preventing that ignorance of its previous arrangements and affairs, which has so frequently been found not only to paralyze the exertions of new trustees, but to involve them in pecuniary embarrassment and subject them to personal liability. On the accession of a new trustee, under the present arrangement, he will find two experienced colleagues already in office, conversant with all the affairs of the district, and able and willing to aid and co-operate with him in the discharge of his duties. All the deliberations and actions of the board under this arrangement, will partake of a greater uniformity, and become more systematic. Teachers will be likely to be retained for a longer period; contracts will be likely to be more promptly fulfilled, and taxes and rate bills to be more accurately made out and more speedily collected; and order and harmony will gradually succeed to the chaotic confusion and irregularity which have too generally characterized the records, the councils and the proceedings of trustees ignorant and careless of their duty, and anxious only to transfer the inextricable embarrassments of their district, unexplained and inexplicable, to their suc


One important operation of the provision in question, will be as before observed, to prevent the district from changing the time of its annual meeting, thereby avoiding those frequent misunderstandings as to the period when officers of the district'are to be chosen, from which so many profitless and vexatious controversies have arisen.

The duties of trustees may be arranged under the following general heads :

1, The receipt and application of public money.
2. The calling of annual and special meetings.
3. The assessment and collection of district taxes.

4. The purchase or lease of sites ; building, hiring, or purchasing of school-houses, the repairing and furnishing such houses with necessary fuel and appendages, and their custody and safe-keeping; and the sale of such sites and houses when no longer required for district purposes.

5. The employment of teachers, and their payment; and tlie making out and collection of rate-bills.

6. Their duties in reference to the district library. 7. The making of annual reports.

8. The accounting to their successors and the district, at the expiration of their term of office; and paying over balances on hand.

9. Suits by and against them. 10. Miscellaneous provisions.



day of

E. F.

By the 10th section of the school act of 1847, (No. 35,) it is made the duty of the Town Superintendent to pay over the proportion of teacher's money to which each district may be entitled on its annual report for the preceding year, “on the written order of a majority of the trustees of such district to the teacher entitled to receive the same.”

This order may be in the following form :

A. B. Esq. Town Superintendent of common schools of the town of


C. D. a teacher duly employed by us, and qualified according to law, fifteen dollars, that being the amount which he is entitled to receive, out of the funds in your hands, applicable to the payment of teachers' wages, and'apportioned to our district. Dated this



G. H.

No. Upon the day of the annual apportionment, or as soon as possible thereafter, the trustees should call upon the Town Superintendent, or send one of their number, or the clerk, with an order signed by them, or a majority of them, for the share of library money due their district. If the Town Superintendent withholds such money, without justifiable cause, it is the duty of the trustees to prosecute for the same.-$ 114, (No. 134.)

The teachers should, if possible, present their orders at the same time, so that all the public money belonging to the district may at once be paid over and duly receipted.

To entitle a district to its share of teachers' money, pear from its annual report “ that a school had been kept therein for at least six months during the year, ending at the date of such report, by a qualified teacher," after obtaining a certificate of competency from the proper authority ; that all the teachers' money received during the year has been expended in the payment of süch teacher ; " that no other than a duly qualified teacher had at any time during the year, for more than one month, been employed to teach the school in said district ;” and such report must, in all other respects, be in accordance with law, and the requisitions and instructions of the Superintendent, made in pursuance of law. In

it must ap

« PreviousContinue »