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8. CHANGE OF SITE.
By 1, of chap. 44, of the Laws of 1831, (No. 85,) it is provided that “whenever a school-house shall have been built or purchased for a district, the site of such schoolhouse shall not be changed, nor the building thereon be removed, as long as the district shall remain unaltered, unless by the consent, in writing, of the Town Superintendent of common schools, of the town or each of the towns within which such district shall be situated, stating that in their opinion such removal is necessary; nor then, unless two-thirds of all those present, at a special meeting of such district called for that purpose, and qualified to vote therein, shall vote for such removal, and in favor of such new site."
This provision is designed to secure permanency in the location of the district school-house, while the circumstances under which it was so located remain substantially the same. But when an alteration has taken place in the district, since such location, either by the addition of new inhabitants, and the consequent annexation of new territory, from the adjoining districts, or by the setting off of a portion of the inhabitants and territory to some other district, then, the reason for the enactment failing, a change of site may be voted by a majority of the altered district, in the usual manner. When the new site is again established, either in this manner, or by a two-third vote, as provided in the section above quoted, the same princi. ple again prevails. No further alteration can be made while the district remains substantially in the same condition as when the new site was fixed.
The alterations here referred to must be such as are made in the territorial boundaries of the district. Changes of residence by the inhabitants out of the district, or the removal of persons into it from other districts, cannot be deemed alterations within the meaning of the law, while the territory remains the same.
Experience has shown that by far the most fertile sources of contention and difficulty in the various school districts, originate from the proceedings of the inhabitants connected with the change of the site of their school-house. Such a measure should, therefore, only be adopted when
the convenience and accommodation of the inhabitants will be essentially promoted thereby; when the altered situation of the district imperatively requires a change ; and even then, the full and hearty concurrence not merely of a clear and decided majority of the district, but of the inhabitants generally, should be secured, before any final decision is made. There must always be a portion of the inhabitants, residing at the extremities of the district, who will experience more or less inconvenience, at particular seasons of the year, in consequence of their distance from the school-house : but it is better that these partial inconveniences should be submitted to, than that they should be transferred to others and the whole district plunged into a contention respecting the site. But when, in consequence of the enlargement of the boundaries of the district, a change is indispensable, the inhabitants should come together in a conciliatory and friendly spirit, having no other object in view than the best interests of the district and the convenience of the greatest number: and their action should be deliberate and circumspect—reconciling, as far as possible, the interests of all, and rejecting every proposition calculated to sow the seeds of dissension or disturbance in any portion of the district :-bearing in mind that a mere numerical triumph, leaving a large minority dissatisfied and irritated, however gratifying to the successful party, for a time, is but a poor compensation for a divided and distracted district, and an embittered and hostile neighborhood.
I. BUILDING, HIRING, PURCHASING AND REPAIRING OF SCHOOL
HOUSES, AND PROVIDING FURNITURE AND APPENDAGES.
When a tax is voted by the inhabitants of a district for building a school-house, it is important, not only that the specific amount to be raised should be stated, but if any portion of it is designed to be expended in the erection of other appurtenances, such as a wood-house, necessary, or fence, that those purposes should be specifically set forth in the resolution. It would, in all cases, be desirable that a committee of the inhabitants, consisting of or including the trustees who are charged by law with the execution of the work, should be appointed to digest, and under the advice of the County Superintendent, mature a full plan for the building, appendages, and appurtenances, together with a detailed estimate of the expense, and to submit the same at an adjourned meeting for the sanction and approval of the district. From this proceeding many useful results would follow. The trustees would be placed in possession of all the information necessary to enable them efficiently and systematically to discharge their duties in contracting for and superintending the erection of the house; an opportunity would be afforded of obtaining and comparing the best models of architecture, and the inhabitants would be enabled to discuss at their leisure the several plans submitted, and to consult their convevenience, taste and accommodation in the several details.
The school-house, when built, or purchased, should never be permitted to remain for any length of time out of repair. It is the duty of the trustees to keep it in repair, and the district should, whenever called upon, provide for the expense. They should also see that the school-rooms are properly furnished with fuel, prepared for use; that all the necessary articles of furniture are provided; that the seats, desks and other fixtures are in good condition, and that the district 'library, the apparatus for the school, and all the other property of the district, is properly taken care of, and such articles as are wanted, promptly furnished. In other words, the district should exercise a constant supervision over its officers, and provide the means for an efficient discharge of their duties.
When it is supposed that more than four hundred dole lars will be necessary to build, hire, or purchase a schoolhouse, care should be taken to procure the certificate of the Town Superintendent before the tax is voted by the district, as such certificate seems by the act and has been held by the department to be indispensable, to authorize the vote. If there be a site and house, they should be sold, and the proceeds applied first to the purchase of the new site and next to the building. And whatever sum is applicable to the erection or purchase of the school-house, must, according to a decision of the department, go in reduction of the amount which the district may vote for a school-house. (Decisions, p. 183.) Thus, if the former site and building sell for 200 dollars, and 50 dollars be
applied to the procuring a new site, the remaining 150 dollars being applicable to the new house, the district cannot vote a tax of more than 250 dollars for the building, without the consent of the Town Superintendent.
The following will be a proper form of a resolution for raising a tax for the erection of a school-house :
The certificate of the Town Superintendent of common schools of the town of
having been obtained, that in his opinion a larger sum than four hundred dollars ought to be raised for building a school-house in the said district, namely, the sum of six hundred dollars, (or whatever the whole sum may be.]
Resolved, That the said sum of six hundred dollars be raised by tax upon the said district for the purpose of building a school-house therein.
The resolution for the purchase of a site should be distinct, and may be in the following form :
Resolved, That the sum of fifty dollars be raised by tax upon the said district for the purchase of the site for a new school-house, heretofore designated by the legal voters thereof.
Either or both the above taxes may be raised, but cannot be expended before a site is purchased and a legal title procured.
A tax having been voted to build a school-house, the tax list made out and a warrant issued, the collection of the tax cannot be suspended by vote of a district meeting.-Com. School Dec. 68. But where no proceedings have been had in pursuance of such vote it may be rescinded.-Id. 261.
Where a tax is voted in express terms, a direction subsequently given as to the time and manner of its collection is void.-Id. 282.
Where the inhabitants of a school district authorize the trustees or any other person to select a site for a schoolhouse, it is not a legal site, until subsequently fixed by a vote of the inhabitants.- Id. 353.
Where the title to the site of a district school-house fails, a new site may be fixed by a majority vote, without the certificate of the Town Superintendent.--Id. 107, 132, 142, 195.
When the site of the school-house has been fixed, it may be changed by a majority of votes, at any time be fore the school-house is built or purchased.-Id. 182.
In voting a tax to purchase a site, a sufficient sum may be included to cover all necessary expenses in perfecting the title to the premises.
The fact that the site of a school-house is covered by a mortgage, does not affect the validity of the proceedings of a school meeting, in voting to build upon it; although upon timely application, the Superintendent might not • permit the house to be constructed until the lien was removed.
Where the title to the site of a school-house consists of a lease of the ground so long as it shall continue to be used for the purposes of a district school, if the inhabitants appropriate the land to any other purpose, it reverts to the grantor.
A contract for the purchase of land intended to be occupied as the site for a school-house, is not strictly a lease, although the vendee may for some purposes be regarded as a tenant. Where such a contract is not executed by the performance of its conditions, it does not amount to a purchase. But where such conditions have been performed, the vendees have an equitable title, and the court of chancery would enforce the performance of the contract on the part of the vendor. A presumption in favor of such performance would, it seems, arise from the circumstance of long possession on the part of the district.
Where a school district has been altered, after the ori. ginal establishment of its site either by adding to or di. minishing from its territory, so that the site is no longer central or convenient, such site may be changed by a vote of a majority of the inhabitants of the district, at any meeting, annual or special : but after such change has been effected, and a new site established, and a new house built or purchased, the site cannot again be changed, until some further alteration occurs in the boundaries of the dis. trict, without the consent of the Town Superintendent and two-thirds of the voters of the district, in the mode preacribed by the 70th and two succeeding sections of the school act. (Nos. 85-87.)
The costs and expenses of a bill in equity to perfect the țitle to the site of a school-house, held under an agreement by the owner' to convey, may legally be defrayed by a tax to be voted by the district.- Per YOUNG, Supt.