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Although the joint action of the requisite legal authority of all the towns from portions of which a joint district is composed, is necessary to any alteration of such district, yet where such alteration involves the dissolution of the joint district, the powers of the joint board cease with the order for such dissolution, and the proper officers of each of the towns resume their jurisdiction over the inhabitants and territory belonging to their town. The co-operation of the other members of the joint board, in such subsequent proceedings, although unnecessary and irregular, would not, however, it is presumed, vitiate the proceedings. . . . In the formation or alteration of joint districts, a joint board must in all cases be formed. The officers of one town cannot concur in the proceedings of those of another, at a subsequent period. They have no power to act, either separately or by proxy. They can neither give their consent beforehand to what their colleagues may do, nor can they afterwards in any mode render that valid, which was before illegal and void.
General Principles applicable to the Formation and Alteration . . of Districts. .
The great aim of the officers to whom this duty has been confided should be to form, as far as may be practicable, permanent and efficient districts, competent both in respect to taxable property and number of children, to sustain good schools for from eight to ten months of each year, and affording all requisite facilities for the regular attendance of all the children entitled to participate in the benefits of the school. * . Whenever alterations may become necessary or expedient, the utmost care should be taken to secure the general co-operation of the inhabitants interested, and to avoid all those sources of contention and discord which are so fatal to the prosperity, harmony and efficiency of the district. It is better to submit to many temporary and local inconveniences, than to hazard the disastrous results which almost uniformly follow any general dissatisfaction with contemplated alterations, even though such alterations may upon the whole be judicious and advantageous. “The good sense of a district may be relied upon, to perceive ultimately its true interest, and the loss of time in attaining the desired end is unimportant when compared with the consequences of defeating the wishes of a decided majority,” or even of a respectable minority “ of a district.” : . School districts must be composed of contiguous territory; and it has been decided that when a person is set off from one district to another, and there are lands between the farm so set off and the district to which it is annexed, such intermediate territory passes to the latter. - In his annual report to the legislature for the year 1843, the Superintendent, (Col. YoUNG, ) observes, “One of the most formidable obstacles to the efficiency of our common schools is believed to be the uncessary multiplication and subdivision of districts. In those portions of the state where the population is scattered over a large extent of territory, the convenience and accommodation of the inhabitants, require the formation of districts comprising a small amount of taxable property, applicable to the support of schools and a limited number of children. But where an opposite state of things exists, the interests of education will be most effectually promoted, by assigning to each district the greatest extent of territory compatible with securing to the children the requisite facilities for their regular attendance at the schools.” . - In a case coming before him on appeal, in 1835, Gen. Dix observes in reference to this subject: “Almost all the existing evils of the common school system have their origin in the limited means of the school district. The tendency is to subdivision and to a contraction of their territorial boundaries. This consequence must follow in some degree from the increase of population ; but the subdivision of school districts tends to advance in a much greater ratio. The average number of children in our school districts is about fifty-five. No school district should number less than forty children between [four and twenty-one years] of age. From the observations he has made, the Superintendent deems it due to the common school system, that no new district shall be formed with a much smaller number, unless peculiar circumstances render it proper to make it an exception to the general rule. In feeble districts, cheap instructors, poor and ill furnished school-houses, and a general languor of the cause of education are almost certain to be found.”—Com. School Dec. 220. II. APPostTIONMENT AND PAYMENT OF PUBLIC MONEY. By subdivisions 5, 6 and 7 of § 8 of the school act (No. 33) it is made the duty of the Town Superintendents “To apply for and receive from the county treasurer, all moneys apportioned for the use of common schools in their town, and from the collector of the town, all moneys raised therein for the same purpose, as soon as such moneys shall become payable, or be collected, and to apportion the school moneys received by them, on the first Tuesday of April, in each year, among the several school districts, parts of districts, and neighborhoods separately set off, within their town, in proportion to the number of children residing in each, over the age of four and under that of twenty-one years, as the same shall have appeared from the last annual reports of their respective trustees. If they shall have received the school moneys of their town, and all the reports from the several school districts therein, before the first Tuesday in April, they shall apportion such moneys as above directed, within ten days after receiving all of the said reports and the said moneys.” The practice of making two divisions of the public money among the districts in the course of the year, is contrary to the express provision of the statute. The sixth subdivision of section 8 (No. 33) makes it the duty of the Town. Superintendent to apportion the school moneys received by him on the first Tuesday of April in each year ; and by the 7th subdivision of the same section, if he have received reports from all the districts before that day, he is to divide the money within ten days after receiving all the reports and the money. The annual reports of the trustees of the several districts are, as will be seen hereafter under the appropriate head required to be made and transmitted to the Town Superintendent, between the first and fifteenth of January in each year; and the public money from all sources is payable immediately after its receipt by the county treasurer on the first of February. If, therefore, the reports of the respective trustees are made within the time prescribed by law, ample opportunity will be afforded to the Town Superintendent to point out all errors and deficiencies in them, and to enable the trustees either to make the necessary corrections or apply to the department for relief, before the apportionment is finally made. In making the apportionment, the Town Superintendent is first to assign to each district, from which the necessary report has been received, or which is entitled to share in the apportionment, its proportion of the public money received from all sources, according to the number of children between the ages of four and twenty-one, designating the respective proportions of teachers' and library money belonging to each district. The proportion of library money to be apportioned to each district, may be
ascertained by setting apart five dollars out of each hundred or five per cent of the whole amount apportioned to each district. The teachers' money is to be paid over “on the written order of a majority of the trustees of each district, to the teachers entitled to receive the same.” It will therefore be incumbent on the Town Superintendent to satisfy himself, both of the genuineness of the order and that the person presenting it has the certificate of the trustees that he is or was a teacher of the district, and duly qualified according to law. In order to entitle a district to its share of teachers' money, it must appear 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 such 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 other words, it must be in the form prescribed by the Superintendent, and must contain all the information required by law and by the department to be given. The library money is to be paid over, to, or on the order of, a majority of the trustees, on its appearing from the annual report that “the library money received at the last preceding apportionment was duly expended according to law, (in the purchase of books suitable for a district library, or in the purchase of maps, globes, black-boards, or other scientific apparatus for the use of schools, in the cases and in the mode prescribed by law, or for teachers' wages, with the assent of the state superintendent, on or before the first day of October subsequent to such apportionment.” The report must uniformly be accompanied with a catalogue of the books or apparatus purchased since the last preceding catalogue, and must state accurately the number of volumes and their condition; and when the money has been expended in the purchase of apparatus, &c., or for teachers' wages, the authority under which such expenditure has been made, and a full and particular inventory of the articles purchased, must be specifically reported. 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 common schools. [See vol. 1, 2d ed. Rev. Statutes, page 351, and Com. School Dec., page 418.] The Town Superintendent will, therefore, bebound 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 four and under twenty one 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, therefore, 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 six 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 1841, (No. 147,) 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 four and twenty-one 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. 39,) 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. 161,) whenever 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 with held, as shall be directed by the Superintendent of common schools, according to the circumstances of the case.