County School Unit Plan

Charleston Gazette
May 23, 1933

Fundamental Provisions of School Measure Unchanged

House Senate Amendments Fail to Disturb Governor's Proposals; Essentials of Bill as Sent to Kump Outlined

Although amended in the educational committees of the house and senate, on the floor of the two houses and again in conference, the county unity school bill reorganizing the state's entire educational system, as finally passed by the legislature yesterday was not changed in any fundamental respect from the measure originally proposed by Gov. H. G. Kump.

In its final form, as it went to the governor for his signature, the measure contained the following provisions.

Abolition of all existing magisterial and independent school districts and designation of each county as a school district, the affairs to be administered by a board of five members to be chosen at the next general election.

Interim boards, to serve until permanent boards are elected by the people, are to be appointed by the state superintendent of schools.

To Name Superintendents

The county superintendent of schools is to be elected by the county board, but superintendents now in office are to serve until the expiration of their terms.

It is provided, however, that in the case of superintendents now if office, they shall perform only such duties of the office as the board may prescribe, and the board is authorized to designate any teacher or teachers to perform any of the remaining duties of the office. This provision applies only to superintendents now in office.

Qualifications of county superintendents to be appointed by boards are to be the possession of a bachelor's degree, including at least eight hours' credit in school administration and two years' experience in public teaching, or, in lieu of the teaching experience, he must have served at least one term as county superintendent in the state.

Superintendents must file health certificates showing freedom from infections and contagious diseases. The board may remove the superintendent at any time "for cause in its judgment and discretion." The salary of the superintendent shall not be less than $800 nor more than $8,000 per year, exclusive of state aid. In additional he shall be allowed traveling expenses not to exceed $300 a year.

Secretaries Abolished

The bill abolishes the office of county financial secretary and provides that the sheriff or school treasurer shall make monthly reports to the board on the school finances of the county.

The duties of the county superintendent are fixed as follows: To act as chief executive offices of the county board, to receive applications of teachers and submit them to the board with his recommendations; to assign, transfer, suspend, promote or dismiss teachers, subject to the board's approval; to organize and attend district institutes; to close temporarily any school when deemed necessary to protect health, safety and welfare of pupils, to certify all expenditures and monthly payrolls; to act as secretary of the board and also to "act in case of emergency as the best interests of the schools demand"; to visit schools and make suggestions as to instruction and classroom management; to report to the board cases of incompetence, neglect of duty, immorality or misconduct of any teacher or other employe; to recommend condemnation of buildings unfit for use; to direct the school census, to call conferences of teachers and principals and to make such reports as may be required by the state superintendent of schools.

Not more than two members of the county board shall be from the same magisterial district. At the next general election the three candidates for the board receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected for four-year terms and the next two highest shall be elected for two-year terms. As terms expire, the offices are to be filled for four-year terms.

Meetings of Board

The board shall meet the first Monday in July following its appointment or election and select ones of its number as president for a two-year term. The board is to fill vacancies in its own membership, but in case of failure to do so the state superintendent is directed to make the appointment. If a board member moves out of the district or accepts a position as a teacher in any district, his office shall be immediately vacated. The board is to meet on the first Monday in July in and the first and third Tuesdays in August. Special meetings may be called by the president at any time.

Members of the board shall receive $5 per meeting, not to exceed 12 in any one year. Necessary traveling expenses also are allowed. Interim boards to serve until their successors are elected and qualified shall be appointed by the state superintendent prior to July 1.

The board is authorized to provide medical and dental clinics, jointly establish and maintain schools with the board of an adjoining county, close any school and assign pupils to other schools, establish needed schools, consolidate schools, close any elementary school where the average daily attendance falls below 20 for two consecutive months, and send pupils to other schools, provide transportation for children residing more than two miles from a school.

Textbook Changes Limited

No changes may be made in textbooks only as provided by general law, except it is required that at least one year of West Virginia history be taught prior to the eighth grade. It is mandatory that the board establish a school where ten or more colored children reside within two miles of a point where a school might be established, and the board may, if practical, establish a school in any part of the county where less than ten colored children reside.

The minimum term is fixed at nine months "or such part thereof as the maximum levy and the equalization fund of the state will permit." If both are insufficient to provide the minimum term, the board may upon petition of five per cent of the voters submit the question of additional levies to a special election. Such additional levies would have to be approved by 60 per cent of the qualified voters.

Any board that furnishes free text books shall waive all rights to supplemental state aid. Boards may transfer pupils to other districts by paying tuition not to exceed $2.50 a month for elementary pupils and $10 a month for high school students.

Supervisors Banned

Boards are authorized to employ janitors and such other employes [sic] as may be necessary, but it is expressly provided that they may not employ supervisors, "whether by that name or any other name, any provision of state law to the contrary notwithstanding." Assistant superintendents may be employed for one year, but any so employed must hold a bachelor's degree and have at least two years' experience as a teacher. Negro assistant superintendents may be employed in districts where there are more than 50 Negro teachers.

Self supporting dormitories may be established.

If a majority of the voters of any political subdivision of a district file a petition, asking for increased salaries for teachers, or for funds for the maintenace [sic] of school libraries, medical or dental clinics, or for supervision, or for extension of the school term for any given number of months, the board is directed to lay such additional levies as may be necessary, provided the constitutional limitations are not exceeded. It is further provided, however, that if 100 taxpayers make such request the board shall call a special election and submit the question of levies beyond the constitutional limitations.

The law provides that bonded indebtedness incurred by former independent and magisterial districts shall remain the debt of the property originally pledged as security.


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