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Trustees should exercise a liberal discretion in making exemptions in behalf of indigent inhabitants, so that the charge for tuition shall in no case be burdensome; while, on the other hand, they should never allow the consideration of the trifling amount of the general tax for such exemption, when levied upon the whole taxable property of the district, to tempt them into an unnecessary exercise of the powers confided to them.
To illustrate this proceeding more fully, let us apply the several steps necessary to be taken in ordinary cases. Suppose a teacher employed for the usual term of four months, at twenty dollars per month. The public money, including local funds, belonging to the district, and applicable to the term, either by the decision of a district meeting, as above specified, or by the determination of the trustees, is forty dollars : the amount due the teacher for his quarter's services is, of course, eighty dollars, of which the trustees give him an order on the Town Super. intendent for forty dollars, from the public money, and take his receipt therefor. They then call upon him for his list, kept and verified according to the provisions of § 11 of the act of 1841, (No. 122;) and after having ascertained from such list the number of days' attendance for which each person sending to school is liable, they will proceed to assess the respective proportions of the remaining forty dollars, from each, according to the whole number of days and children sent. Thus, if one inhabi. tant has sent four children for 104 days, he will be charged for 416 days, and so on. Suppose, upon adding up the whole number of days thus ascertained, the total is found to be 4,000, for the average attendance of forty scholars for the whole term: the proportion of forty dollars due for one scholar for each day, would be one cent: and this multiplied by the number of days each scholar attended, wou'd give his proportion; and by adding the proportions of each belonging to the same family, the amount due from each person sending to school is ascertained. The trustees then make out an assessment in the following form:
Form of Assessment. Assessment containing the name of each person liable for teach ers' wages in district No. in the town of Trenton, for the term ending on the day of
184 and the amount for which each person is liable.
Names of inhabitants sending Whole No. Amount of
days sent. school bill.
104 416 312 50 64 416 104 104 620 520 620 6.20 360
64 4 16 1 04 1 04 6 20 6 20 6 20 5 20 3 60
This assessment should be signed by the trustees and kled with the district clerk.
The next step is to exempt such indigent persons as the trustees may
proper, from the payment of the sums set opposite to their names, either wholly or in part. Sup. pose Peter Barney to be exempted wholly, and Thomas Jones and John Radcliff each from the payment of onehalf the amounts assessed to them; the trustees will first make out a certificate, to be filed with the clerk of the district, in the following form:
3. Certificate of Exemption. We, the undersigned, trustees of district No. in the town of Trenton, do certify, that we have this day exempted Peter Bar. ney from the payment of any share of the wages of the teacher employed in said district for the term ending on the
18 and Thomas Jones and John Radcliff each from the payment of one-half the amount assessed to them respect. ively, as their share of such wages. ated this day of
They will then proceed to make out their rate bill and warrant, in the following manner:
Form of Rate Bill and Warrant. Rate bill, containing the name of each person liable for teachers' wages in district No.
in the town of Trenton, for the term ending on the day of
184 and the amount for which each person not exempted, either wholly or in part, from the payment of such amount, is so liable, with the fees of the collector thereon.
To the collector of school district No.
in the town of Trenton, in the county of Oneida:
You are hereby commanded to collect from each of the persons in the annexed rate-bill named, the several sums mentioned in the last column thereof, excepting such sums as may have been collected by the teacher; and within thirty days after receiving this warrant to pay the amount so collected by you (retaining five per cent for your fees) into the hands of the trustees of said district, or one of them; and in case any person therein named shall neglect or refuse to pay the amount set opposite his name as aforesaid, you are to levy the same by distress and sale of the goods and chattels of such person. Given under our hands this
in the year
C. D., Trustees.
There will still remain $3.10 of the amount due the teacher for his wages, being the amount of exemptions by the trustees; and this sum must be levied by a tax on all the taxable inhabitants of the district, and corporations holding property therein, in the same manner as though such amount had been actually voted by the district to be raised. If the teacher can wait upon the district, or the trustees choose to advance the money in its behalf, the amount may be added to the next tax that may be voted for district purposes. It should, however, be assessed within a reasonable time; and wherever the amount of exemptions is sufficient to warrant an immediate assessment, it should at once be levied. The trustees must exercise a sound discretion in this respect, with reference to the amount to be raised, and the probability of an early opportunity to add it to some district tax.
Any inhabitant of the district liable for the payment of teachers' wages, may pay his proportion, to the teacher, at any time before the rate bill is actually made out; and such payment exempts him, to the extent so paid from the operation of the rate bill. The language of the 8th subdivision of $ 12, (No. 103,) recognizes the right of collection on the part of the teacher; although, as before remarked, its exercise is, as a general rule, inexpedient Where any portion of his bill is thus collected by the teacher, notice of the amount, and the name of the inhabitant paying it, should be given to the trustees, at the time of furnishing them with the list of pupils ; and the amount so paid must be allowed to the credit of the person paying it. But the whole sum for which the rate bill and preliminary assessment is made out, is not to be varied by the fact of such payment; credit only is to be given for the advance to the teacher in the rate-bill; as otherwise, by diminishing the sum to be raised, by the amount so paid, a double assessment on the persons pay. ing, would be the consequence.
Where a person agrees to pay for a certain number of scholars, he is entitled to the benefit of the public money in reduction of their school bills.-Com. School Dec. 83.
In making out rate-bills, inhabitants of districts can only be charged for so much time, as their children have actually attended school.-Id. 15.
All children attending the district school must be harged at the same rate for tuition, without regard to the studies pursued.-Id. 47.
A resident of a school district cannot be prosecuted by the trustees for the amount due on his rate-bill. The only remedy against him is by distress and sale of his goods and chattels-Id. 264.
In the exercise of the power conferred upon the trustees, of exempting indigent inhabitants of their district from the payment of the whole or of portions of their rate-bills, the utmost liberality, compatible with justice to the districi, should be indulged. Nothing can be more at variance with the benign spirit and intent of the school laws, than the compulsory distress and sale of articles of absolute necessity to an indigent family, for the purpose of satisfying the rate-bill for teachers' wages. cases of this kind are frequently brought to the notice of the department. Every reasonable facility should be afforded to the children of the poor, for the attainment of all the blessings and advantages of elementary instruction: and this should never be permitted to become in any degree burdensome to their parents. Where any inhabitant of the district in indigent circumstances cannot meet the rate-bill for the payment of the teachers' wages, without subjecting himself to serious embarrassment, or his family to sensible deprivation, he should promptly and cheerfully be exonerated. A just feeling of pride may reasonably be expected to preclude any from availing themselves of this exemption, unless under the pressure of absolute necessity; and occasional abuses of the privilege so accorded, are productive of less disastrous results, than a prevailing impression among the indigent inhabitants of a district, that their children can partake of the advantages of common school education, only at a burdensome charge to themselves, and by a sacrifice of the ordinary necessities and comforts of their families.
Indigent persons may be exempted from the payment of school bills, whether there is public money to be applied to the term or not.Com. School Dec. 56.
The exemption of indigent persons from the payment of the wages of teachers is a matter of discretion with the trustces, not regulated by any specific restrictions, but entrusted to them to be disposed of in good conscience, with a just regard to the rights of all concerned.-Id. 24).
Trustces are the sole judges of the ability of the persons residing within their respective districts to pay their school bills.-Com. School Dec. 254.
The wages of an unqualified teacher must be collected by rate-bill against those seading to school, in the same