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so much, (specifying the amount,) was raised by the board of supervisors, and so much, (stating it,) was voted by the inhabitants of the town.
The sum thus received being raised under the authority to a town to vote a tax “ for the support of common schools," must be applied solely to that object. The legislature has not authorized the application of it, temporarily or otherwise, for the purchase of a library, as is done in the case of the public money. No part of it can be appropriated to the purchase of books, or to any purpose other than “the support of common schools” in the town. The Superintendent, therefore, is not to make any division of such money into library money, and teachers' money, but is to apportion it wholly as school money.
By chapter 257, of the Laws of 1829, in those counties where the distinction between town and county poor is abolished, the inhabitants of towns having any funds in the hands of their overseers of the poor, may appropriate all, or any part of such funds, to such purposes as shall · be determined at an annual or special town meeting. If appropriated for the benefit of common schools, it is made a fund for that purpose, and is placed under the charge of the Town Superintendent of common schools of the town. The interest is to be applied “ to the support of common schools.” But the town may, at an annual meeting, direct the whole principal, as well as the interest, to be applied for the benefit of the common schools. [See vol. 1, 2d ed. Rev. Statutes, page 351, and Com. School Decisions, page 418.]
The Town Superintendent will, therefore, be bound to distribute the interest, and the principal when directed by the town, equally, among the districts. He cannot adopt a more just or convenient ratio than that established by the existing law, in relation to the public money-the number of children above five and under sixteen years of age.
The purchase of district libraries would not be an application to the support of common schools." They are not intended for the schools exclusively, or particularly, but for the benefit of all the inhabitants, and cannot be said to form any part of “the common schools." No part of the interest or principal of this town fund, there.
fore, can be distributed as “library money ;') the whole must be apportioned and paid over as school money.
There are laws of a similar character respecting the gospel and school lots, which are so local and peculiar as not to justify any particular observations concerning them in this connection, except that none of these funds can properly be applied to the purchase of books.
In apportioning and paying the money in their hands to trustees of school districts, the Town Superintendents should bear in mind that the “ teachers' money" and the “ library money" are entirely independent of each other. The report of the trustees of school districts may entitle them to their “teachers' money” and yet they may not have complied with the conditions upon which they are authorized to receive the “ library money.” For instance, they may not have expended the latter in the purchase of books; and yet they may have fully complied with the law in regard to their schools. So they may be entitled to “ library money," and yet not have had a school kept four months by a qualified teacher. In all such cases the money appropriated to the different objects, teachers or library, is to be distributed upon the reports relating to those objects only.
By § 15 of the act of 1941, (No. 168,) Town Superintendents are required to apportion and pay to the trustees of colored schools, established in their town, according to the provisions of that section, a portion of the public money, according to the number of colored children between the ages of 5 and 16 years, appearing by the reports of the trustees to have been instructed in such schools for at least four months during the preceding year by a licensed teacher, and to deduct the amount so apportioned from the shares of the districts from which such children have respectively attended.
In all cases where the annual report of the trustees of a district shall not be found in substantial accordance with the law, or the forms or instructions prescribed by the Superintendent, it is the duty of the Town Superintendent to withhold from such district the share of teachers' or library money to which it would otherwise have been entitled, to direct the defaulting trustees to make immediate application to the department, setting forth under oath any excuse they may have for omitting to comply with the requisitions of law:, and to retain the amount apportioned to such district and so withheld, to await the directions of the department in reference to its disposition. In case no directions are received prior to the next succeeding apportionment, the Town Superintendent is to add the amount so retained to the fund for distribution the ensuing year.
By the second section of the act of 1841, (No. 30) it is provided that “ Whenever an apportionment of the public money shall not be made to any school district, in consequence of any accidental omission to make any report required by law, or to comply with any other provision of law, or any regulation, the Superintendent of Common Schools may direct an apportionment to be made to such district, according to the equitable circumstances of the case, to be paid out of the public. money on hand; or if the same shall have been distributed, out of the public money to be received in a succeeding year.” And by the sixth section of chap. 177, Laws of 1839 (No. 185) when. ever any library money shall be withheld from any school district, the same may be distributed among other districts complying with such conditions, or may be retained and paid subsequently, to the district from which the same was withheld, as shall be directed by the Superintendent of Common Schools, according to the circumstances of the case.
By $$ 27 and 28 (No.'s 33 and 34) of the school act, “ All moneys apportioned by the Town Superintendent to the trustees of a district, part of a district, or separate neighborhood, which shall have remained in the hands of such Superintendent for one year after such apportionment, by reason of the trustees neglecting or refusing to receive the same, shall be added to the moneys next thereafter to be apportioned, and shall be apportioned and paid therewith, in the same manner : and in case any school moneys received by the Town Superintendent cannot be apportioned by him for the term of two years after the same are received, by reason of the non-compliance of all the school districts in the town with the provisions of this title, such moneys shall be returned by him to the county treasurer, to be by him apportioned and distributed, together and in the same manner with the mo
neys next thereafter to be received by him, for the use of common schools.”
If the Town Superintendent knows, or has good reason to believe any district report to be erroneous or false, he may withhold the public money from the district, and sub mit the facts to the Superintendent.
If after the time when the annual reports are required to be dated, and before the apportionment of the school moneys shall have been made by the Town Superintend. ent, a district shall be duly altered, or a new district be formed in the town, so as to render an apportionment founded solely on the annual reports, unjust, as between two or more districts of the town, the Town Superintend. ent is required by Ø 26 (No. 31) of the school act, to make an apportionment among such districts, according to the number of children in each, over the age of five and under sixteen years, ascertaining that number by the best evidence in his power; and by the first section of chap. 206 of the Laws of 1831, the same provision is extended to all cases where a school district shall have been formed at such time previous to the first day of January, as not to have allowed a reasonable time to have kept a school therein for the term of four months, such district having been formed out of a district or districts in which a school shall have been kept for four months, by a teacher duly qualified, during the year preceding the first day of January.
The apportionment of public money by the Town Superintendent, can in no case be made prior to the first Tuesday in April, except where reports from all the districts and parts of districts in the town, and all the public moneys have been received, before that time; but under certain circumstances it may be made subsequently. The specification of time in the statute is not intended to limit the exercise of the authority of the Town Superintendent in this respect, but may be regarded as directory merely; and it has accordingly been held, that if for any justifiable cause, the apportionment is not made or completed on the day specified, it may be made at a subsequent period.
In all cases where school districts have complied substantially with the law, the trustees may be allowed to
correct their reports, as to mere matter of form, at any time before the money is actually apportioned and paid. A district ought not to lose its money in consequence of a misconception of the law, or a mere clerical error on the part of some of its officers. The Town Superintendent should consider himself the guardian of the equitable rights of the districts, and when he discovers an error as to form, which if not corrected would deprive a district of its just share of public money, he should point it out to the trustees, to the end that it may be corrected, and the fair rights of the district secured.- Per FLAGG and Dix, Sup'ts, Com. School Dec. 36, 181.
By a regulation of the Superintendent of Common Schools, made in pursuance of law, Town Superintendents are prohibited from paying over the share of library money apportioned to any district in the following cases: .
Ist. Where a catalogue of the title of all the books in the district library, with the number of volumes of each set or series, and the condition of such books, signed by the trustees and librarian, has not been delivered.
2d. Where the number of books belonging to the library is not stated in the annual report of the trustees.
3d. Where it does not clearly appear from such report that the whole of the library money paid to such district the preceding year has been expended within the time and in the mode prescribed by law: and if for the purchase of maps, globes, or other school apparatus, for what particular articles, and under what authority, or resolution of the district.
4th. Whenever it appears that any portion of the library money of the preceding year has been expended in the purchase of any text-book, or any book clearly improper to be admitted into a district library. In cases where there may be room for an honest difference of opinion as to the admissibility of any book or books, purchased by the trustees, the Town Superintendent should include the district in the apportionment of library money and refer the inhabitants aggrieved by such selection to their remedy by appeal.