County School Unit Plan

Charleston Gazette
May 23, 1933

County Unit Fight Ends As House Adopts Joint Committee Compromise

55-33 Vote Marks Close Of Long Dispute on Administration Measure

Bill Made Effective From Approval Date

Opponents Lose Closing Fight on Motion to Reject Report

Bringing to an end a long and bitter fight which began when the regular session convened in January, the legislature yesterday completed enactment of the county school unit bill and sent it to Governor H. G. Kump for his signature.

Final action came in the house of delegates when that branch accepted a conference committee report and re-passed the bill by a vote of 55 to 33. It was made effective from passage by a count of 77 to ten.

The state senate took similar action on the measure last Friday, also making it effective from passage.

Under provisions of the bill, the state superintendent is authorized to apoint [sic] by July 1 five- member Boards of education in each of the 55 counties of the state to take over complete administration of the school system, supplanting independent and magisterial districts.

Under authority conferred by the bill. State Superintendent W. W. Trent is said to be prepared to make appo[i]ntments soon after the governor signs the act. Clerks of the legislature said the enrolled bill would be ready for the governor's signature today or tomorrow.

Opponents Fight to Last

Opponents of the bill fought it to the last ditch. Immediately upon presentation of the conference report to the house, the last decisive battle began.

Delegate J. Shirley Ross, (D., Kanawha), fired the opening gun, moving that the report be rejected. He charged that the senate had concur[r]ed in seven house amendments but had asked the house to recede from 20 amendments.

Among the amendments to be rejected by the conferees were two sponsored by Ross. These, he said, would have kept the school system "out of politics" and would have given "white children the same opportunities and advantages colored children enjoy."

Speaker R. M. Hiner refused to entertain Ross motion, saying the question was "shall the conference report be adopted?" The Kanawha delegate then moved that the report be again referred to the committee and the speaker put the motion. It was defeated.

Craig Defends Measure

The bill was defended by Delegate A. S. Craig (D., Brooke), who declared that "the time is short and the people are expecting us to do something." He added that he had just returned from the northern panhandle and "where I found one taxpayer opposed to the county unit, I found nine for it. True, many school teachers were against it, but they were told that if the bill is passed, the school system would go to the dogs."

Delegate Roy Yoke (D., Monongalia), chairman of the house education committee, also took the floor to deny charges that had been made by opponents. He asserted that "no county board is going to close the schools to the detriment of the children." He pointed out that district supervisors last year cost the taxpayers $185,000, adding that "under this bill you can have assistant superintendents if you want them."

Several other delegates spoke briefly, most of them saying the bill "does not suit" them in its entirety, but they were willing to compromise. Among them were Delegates G. C. Belknap (D., Braxton), Ben H. Butcher (D., Wood), R. L. Mattheys (D., Fayette), George D. Moore (D., Kanawha), Mrs. S. W. Price (D., Fayette), and J. N. Finley (D., Hancock).

Hickel Fights Provision

Delegate T. J. Hickel (D., Pleasants) opposed the report on the ground that it would require districts to pay for existing bonded indebtedness while the rest of the county would enjoy the advantages of improvements for which the money was spent.

The conference report was adopted by a vote of 56 to 32. The vote on passage of the bill was 55 to 33 and that on making it effective from passage 77 to ten.

Many of the delegates who refused to vote for the bill, changed their votes to the affirmative on the question of making it effective from passage because they wanted "to get the agony over with."

"In order to prove that the act will be a failure," said Delegate Rush D. Holt (D., Lewis), "although I hope it will be a success, I would like to see it become effective as soon as possible."

Delegate Hickel also changed his vote, saying "if we have to take a dose of nasty medicine, the sooner we get it down the better."

The vote on the passage of the bill was as follow:

For the Bill

Delegates Adkins, Belknap, Bibb, Boley, Butcher, Calvert, Carden, Chipley, Coffindaffer, Craig, Custer, Davis, Dixon, Doringer, Dyer, Finley, Goodwin, Haberstick, Harmon, Harper, Haynes, Hill, Jarvis, Kelley, LaFon, Lantz, Lester, Lilly, Martin, Matthews, McClintic, McCoy, McVey, Moore, Noll, Norton, Peery, Pelter, Poling, Mrs. Price, Pritt, Schimmel, Shahan, Smith of Harrison, Harrison [sic], Starcher, Strong, Mrs. Suddarth, Tallman, Thomas, Tucker, Van Sickler, Welton, White, Yoke, and Speaker Hiner - 55

Against the Bill

Delegates Arbogast, Arnold, Ballard, Barley, Beacom, Beeler, Carrico, Cottrill, deGruyter, Dunn, Farrell, Foster, Gates, Mrs. Harman, Hickel, Holt, Hyre, Lubliner, Marsh of Ohio, Marsh of Ritchie, Maulsby, Melrose, Morrow, Neal, Nichols, Peters, Rairden, Randolph, Reed, Ross, Smith of Wirt, Summerfield and Wells - 33

Absent and not voting - Delegates Calhoun, Hogg, Newman, Righter, Tabor and Watson.


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