Transcribed from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar.

Public School System.—Section 34 of the act organizing the territory of Kansas contains the following educational provision: "And be it further exacted, that when the lands in said territory shall be surveyed under the direction of the government of the United States, preparatory to bringing the same into market, sections numbered 16 and 36 in each township in said territory shall be, and the same, are hereby reserved for the purpose of being applied to the schools in said territory and in the states and territories hereafter to be erected out of the same."

The first territorial legislature met in July, 1855, and passed the first body of laws for the government of Kansas. In chapter 144 of these statutes is found an act, section 1 of which reads: "That there shall be established a common school or schools, in each of the counties of this territory, which shall be open and free for every class of white citizens between the ages of five and twenty-one years, provided that persons over the age of twenty-one years may be admitted into such schools on such terms as the trustees of such district may direct."

Owing to the political situation little was done in the administration of the laws enacted by this legislature or those of 1857. The first free-state legislature, which convened in 1858, passed additional laws for the organization, supervision, and maintenance of common schools. It created an office of territorial superintendent of common schools, and declared "that all school districts established under the authority of this act shall be free and without charge for tuition to all children between the age of five and twenty-one years, and no sectarian instruction shall be allowed therein."

On the day this act was approved, James Noteware was appointed territorial school superintendent. He served until Dec. 2, 1858, and was succeeded by Samuel W. Greer, who was in office until Jan. 7, 1861. From that time until April 10, 1861, John C. Douglas was superintendent. Supt. Greer made a report to the legislature on Jan. 4, 1860, which covered sixteen counties and 222 school districts. Douglas county led the list with 36 organized school districts. There were 7,029 persons of school age; $7,045.23 had been raised to build school houses; the amount of money by private subscriptions was $6,883.50; and the amount of public money for schools was $6,283.50.

An Early Sod School House.


Article 2, section 23, of the state constitution, provides that "The legislature in providing for the formation and regulation of schools, shall make no distinction between the rights of males and females," and article 6 is devoted to the subject of education. (See Constitution.)

The educational provisions of the act of admission were as follows: First, That sections numbered 16 and 36, in every township of public lands in said state, and where either of said sections or any part thereof has been sold or otherwise been disposed of, other lands, equivalent thereto and as contiguous as may be, shall be granted to said state for the use of schools. Second, That 72 sections of land shall be set apart and reserved for the use and support of a state university, to be selected by the governor of said state, subject to the approval of the commissioner of the land-office, and to be appropriated and applied in such a manner as the legislature of said state may prescribe for the purpose aforesaid, but for no other purpose.

The first state legislature of 1861 followed the example of the territorial assembly and enacted laws for the regulation and support of common schools. The act provided for and outlined the duties of a state superintendent of public instruction, and for a county superintendent of public instruction and outlined his duties. Sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Chapter 76 of the laws of 1861 have to do with school districts, the officers, the school houses and its boundaries, tax districts, teachers and taxes. Section 7 provides for the foundation of graded schools by the union of two or more districts. Section 8 concerns the distribution of the income of the school fund, which declares that, "For the purpose of affording the advantages of a free education to the children of the state, the state annual school fund shall consist of the annual income derived from the interest and rents of the perpetual school funds, as provided in the constitution of the state, and such sum as will be produced by the annual levy and assessment of one mill upon the dollar valuation of the taxable property of the state and is hereby levied and assessed annually, the said one mill upon the dollar for the support of common schools in the state.

William R. Griffith was elected first state superintendent of public instruction, taking his office in Feb., 1861. His report for 1861 shows that 500,000 acres of land granted under the act of Congress of 1841, had been selected by commissioners appointed by the governor; also 46,080 acres granted for support of the state university. Twelve county superintendents had reported to him, but not all of these counties had been organized into districts. Mr. Griffith's successor was Simeon M. Thorp. His report for 1862 contains reports from 20 county superintendents, showing that 304 school districts had been organized. The school taxes for that year were $19,289, and the number of school children 14,976. Isaac T. Goodnow was elected superintendent in 1863 and served until 1867. Mr. Goodnow's report for 1866 showed 54,000 school children, 871 school districts and 1,086 school teachers. He urged uniformity in school books, a revision of school laws, the compelling of school districts to use the text books officially recommended, the employment of a deputy state superintendent, the making of the office of county superintendent a salaried office, a change in the law for issuing bonds for building school houses, and a report of the law limiting taxes in school districts. Peter McVicar was superintendent from 1867 to 1871. His report embraces recommendations in respect to graded schools, conduct of primary schools, age of admission and courses of study. During the decade 1870 to 1880 the public schools developed and were improved by new laws, better organization and better conditions. Since then the state superintendents were Hugh De F. McCarty, 1871-75; John Fraser, 1875-76; Allen B. Lemmon, 1877-81; Henry C. Speer, 1881-85; Joseph H. Lawhead, 1885-89; George W. Winans, 1889-93; Henry N. Gaines, 1893-95; Edmund Stanley, 1895-97; William Stryker, 1897-99; Frank Nelson, 1899-1903; I. L. Dayhoff, 1903-07; Edward T. Fairchild, 1907-—.

Elementary Schools.—In 1860 laws were passed for one kind of elementary school; today they are made for six, which are the public schools of the cities of the first, second and third class, district schools, kindergarten and union schools. Every city of more than 15,000 inhabitants is regarded as a city of first class and by virtue of its incorporation as such is regarded as a school district. Every city having a population of from 2,000 to 15,000 becomes a separate school district by virtue of its incorporation as a city of the second class. The schools of first and second class cities are conducted under the separate laws, but the boards of education of both, under certain conditions may attach adjacent property for school purposes. Cities of the third class are those which have a population of not less than 250 nor more than 2,000. These cities cannot be detached from the districts in which they are located and are governed by the laws for the district, graded or union schools. The ordinary school district is organized by the county superintendent of public instruction, whose duty it is to divide the county "into a convenient number of school districts," and to change such districts as the demands of the people require. No district shall be formed with less than 15 pupils. But by the law of 1907 the school board of any district in the state was given power to establish and maintain free kindergartens in connection with the public schools for the instruction of children between four and six years of age residing in said district. The union school is the consolidation of two, three or more weak small schools into a large central school.

Consolidation in its complete form implies the transportation of the pupils at the expense of the district in comfortably covered wagons, properly lighted and heated, large enough to hold from 16 to 24 pupils, driven by a driver under bond and contract as to regularity, habits, protection and control over the children. The first school of this type was established in this state in 1898. A special law was passed in 1897, and the schools of Green Garden township, Ellsworth county, consolidated in 1898. Since then the idea has popularized itself until 34 counties have consolidated schools, numbering in all 62 schools, with an enrollment of 5,362 pupils and 166 teachers. Thirty-two of these schools are maintaining high school departments.

The public schools are sustained as follows: First, by district taxes. In cities of the first class this levy is for the support of the schools of the city, including building and repairs of school buildings. In cities of 40,000 population or under the rate of levy shall not exceed 6 mills; for the support of schools in all cities having a population of over 40,000 the rate of levy shall not exceed 5 mills; for building purposes and repairs of school buildings in all cities having a population of over 40,000 the rate of levy shall not exceed 1 mill; in cities of the second class the maximum tax is 6 mills. In school districts the tax is limited to 3 1/2 mills upon the dollar of all taxable property of any school district and no school is permitted to levy any greater tax than is reasonably necessary to maintain the school. Second, by the county school fund. This fund arises from fines, forfeitures, proceeds from the sale of estrays, moneys paid by persons as equivalent for exemption from military duty, money directed by an order of the court to be distributed to heirs and remaining unclaimed for the space of one year, when it is apportioned to the various school districts in the ratio of their school population. Third, by the state annual school fund. This fund consists of the annual income derived from the interest and rents of the permanent school fund as provided in the constitution of the state.

The early superintendents of public instruction advised a compulsory law and in 1903 the legislature passed an act requiring that all children between the ages of eight and fifteen attend school for a certain portion of each year. The law provides for a truant officer whose duty is to enforce the provisions of this act. The truant officer is under the supervision of the county superintendent. All the elementary schools of Kansas use the same text-books. The legislature of 1907 created a school text-book commission consisting of "eight members be appointed by the governor and with the consent of the senate." This commission is empowered and authorized to select and adopt a uniform series of school texthooks for the use in the public schools.

Consolidates School at Rose Hill. CONSOLIDATED SCHOOL AT ROSE HILL.

For many years an effort has been made to install libraries in the various schools of the state, with the result that about half of the rural schools have libraries, with a total number of 274,793 volumes. School districts are permitted to vote a tax not to exceed 2 mills for district libraries.

High Schools.—The high schools of the state may he divided into three classes: the city high school, which constitutes the ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades of the district school and is governed by its laws; the county high school, and the Barnes high school. The county high school was first established in 1886 by a law which read "Each county having a population of 6,000 inhabitants or over, as shown in the last state or federal census, may establish a county high school on the conditions and in the manner hereinafter prescribed for the purpose of affording better educational facilities for pupils more advanced than those attending district schools and for persons who desire to fit themselves for the vocation of teaching." The first county high school was founded in 1889, five were established in the decade from 1890 to 1900, and sixteen more in the period 1900-1905. All county high schools are required by law to have "three courses of instruction, each requiring four years' study for completion," namely a general course, a normal course and a collegiate course. The 22 county high schools in Kansas have 109 teachers; buildings valued at $400,294; libraries with books numbering 20,117. The Barnes law is an act providing that in all counties other than those maintaining county high schools, the people of the county may avail themselves of the provisions "that all high schools providing such a course of study as will fit its graduates for entrance to the state university, and in addition thereto provides a general course of study, shall be supported by a tax upon the county at large." Pupils may attend such high schools without tuition.

A Modern High School Building


The introduction of industrial training into the schools was first permitted in 1903 when the legislature enacted a law permitting a tax levy for the equipment and maintenance of industrial-training schools or industrial-training departments of the public schools. An appropriation of $20,000 was made for carrying out the provisions of the law. Regular courses in industrial training are maintained in certain county high schools, a few city high schools and some of the graded schools.

For patriotic instruction the legislature of 1907 declares: "It shall be the duty of school authorities of every public school in the several cities, towns, villages and school districts of this state to purchase a suitable United States flag, flagstaff and the necessary appliances therefor, and to display such flag upon, near or in the public school building during school hours and at such other times as such school authorities may direct." It shall be the duty of the state superintendent of public instruction of this state to prepare for the use of the public schools of the state a program providing for a salute to the flag at the opening of each day of school and such other patriotic exercises as may be deemed by him to be expedient, under such regulations and instructions as may best meet the varied requirements of the different grades in such schools, it shall also be his duty to make specific provision for the observance by such public schools of Lincoln's birthday, Washington's birthday, Memorial day (May 30), and Flag Day (June 14) and such other legal holidays of like character as may be hereafter designated by law. The state superintendent of public instruction is also authorized and directed to procure and provide the necessary and appropriate instructions for developing and encouraging such patriotic exercises in the public schools, and the state printer is authorized and directed to do such printing and binding as may be necessary for the efficient and faithful carrying out of the purposes of this act.

Special Public Schools.—The special schools include the Soldiers' Orphans' Home; School for Feeble-minded Youth; School for Deaf and Dumb; Industrial School for Girls; industrial School for Boys; and School for the Blind. (See each under its appropriate title.)

Pages 517-523 from volume II of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.