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menced. These buildings furnish a total of 5130 seats 2340 being in the northern portion of the city and 2790 in the south
Rooms rented temporarily to accomodate last year's increase, to the number of about 2000 seats will be abandoned for the new buildings on the opening of the scholastic year 1870–71 and still the surplus of new accomodations will amount to over 3000 seats. There is not the slightest doubt that these will all be required within a few weeks of their opening.
So large an amount of building within one year naturally raises the question as to the condition of the finances of the Board. By the Secretary's report it will be seen that the Receipts for the year were substantially as follows: From rents...
$52,459 72 From real estate sold
10,220 00 From school taxes.
521,734 29 From State school fund
47,029 92 Receipts, Total....
$631,443 93 The Expenses for the same period were for:
Teachers' Salaries (including Superintendents').. $313,407 45
8,410 43 Supplies, including fuel
17,323 20 Improvements, repairs and furniture
49,360 82 General Expenses (Rent Account &c.)
24,789 46 New buildings and building lots ....
191,895 60 Total...
$634,122 54 It will thus appear that the receipts and expenditures nearly balance. But it must be remembered that a portion of the cost of the new buildings heretofore mentioned falls due, and is to be paid from the revenues of the coming scholastic year.
Although the financial condition of the Board is a healthy one, yet there is ample occasion for the practice of the most rigid economy in the administration of the Schools. In a city which is growing as rapidly as our own and where the actual accommodations for school children have been so much neglected until recently, it is clear that new houses must be built in large number.*) This rapid growth entails an enormous expense on one
*) The new houses constructed by the Board while commodiɔus and elegant without and within, are, at the same time, cheap and durable. The cost of the new 12 room houses accommodating 700 pupils each, averages about $30,000 apiece.
generation. Not merely in school buildings but in all public works and in private affairs as well. For the dwelling houses must be erected for the thousands of new inhabitants that come here from year to year, as well as new court houses, jails, water works, and public parks provided for them. It does not surprise any one to see the city government undertake a public building costing as much as the present value of all our school houses together! The consequence is a terrible rate of taxation and a terrible strain on the energies of individuals; and were it not that the accumulation of wealth goes on still more rapidly than this draining process, it would be a source of great uneasiness and
In order to get a proper point of view in which to study this subject I have instituted comparison between our own expenses and those of our rival cities Chicago and Cincinnati.
The present and past status of the three cities as regards the size of the public school system may be seen partially from the following items:
It must be remembered that while the two other cities steadily progressed during the decade, the St. Louis Schools were broken up in the spring of 1861 and for the two years following lost one half of the regular number of pupils by reason of the tuition fee
charged to eke out their support. When the hindrance was removed in 1863–64, the number enrolled that year was the same as in 1860–61, so that in fact our schools have had only seven years of growth during this decade. It will therefore fill the hearts of the friends of public schools with pleasure, to see that even under these adverse circumstances, the percentage of the entire population enrolled in the schools has increased by about eleven per cent. over the ratio of 1860, to-wit, from 7
cent. to 7.8 per cent. At the same time, although increasing faster than the ratio of the entire population, the actually small per cent. of the people, in the public schools is noteworthy. In Boston, an old city, with a small annual increase, with a public school system thoroughly recognized and supported by the people, the percentage of the population enrolled in the public schools is not far from sixteen per cent. a sixth part of the whole. In St. Louis with a far larger proportion of juveniles the percentage in the schools is one half that. Taking account of the number in private schools in this city, the fact remains that our youth do not frequent schools so much as in the other cities named. The necessity for youth to enter business callings early in cities where the adult population is less numerous, explains in part our backward condition. Even Chicago has fallen behind in its ratio, from 15.1 per cent. in 1860 to 13. in 1870, showing also the effects of the war in thinning out the adult population and consequently forcing the youth out of school.
The school system here is gaining in strength and popularity faster than the city is growing, rapid though it be. And this fact, evident from the above comparison, is the basis of my firm conviction that it is the duty of the School Board to take the most energetic measures to supply the demands for new schoolhouses and teachers, as fast as they arise.
Until the present ratio of the school system to the population shall have nearly doubled, this necessity will exist.
The practical question arising is, how can the Board accomplish this, without increasing the burden of taxation? I have advocated in a former annual report the sale of such portions of our real estate as are not likely to appreciate rapidly in value. Feeling the difficulty occasioned by the want of buildings on the one hand, and unwilling as I am to recommend any increaso of taxation on the other hand, I still favor this policy, but only to the extent absolutely necessary to cover the expense of new building lots and partially defray the cost of the buildings. That our real estate, though footing up on the ledger more than a million and a half of dollars, yields any considerable income, is an error easily refuted by the following statistics : From rents, the Board received during the ten years ending 1860 the sum of $192,010.18 or an average of $19,204 per annum. During the ten years ending July 31st 1870 the amount received from rents was $385,413.81 or a yearly average of $38,541.38, which is only double the amount of the previous decade. Had the property been sold in 1850 and the money invested in six percent securties, the annual yield would have been double what has actually been received. In 1860 the appraised value was $1,505,410.12, and six percent interest on this sum, it is clear, exceeds double the average annual income from ronts by $13,000. In these estimates I have not deducted the large expense to the Board occasioned by the care of this real estate. The cost of litigation, of special officers to supervise and collect rents &c, the absorption of the greater part of the time given by members of the Board to the school duties, and the consequent neglect of the schools under their charge, all these things render the heritage of a larger school fund than is owned by any other city in the United States a very questionable advantage.
School ORGANIZATION. It is with pleasure therefore that I turn from this view of financial considerations to note the substantial progress of the Schools themselves. I am thoroughly convinced that our school system has gained steadily in efficiency during the past year. Although the influx of new pupils and the opening of new schools necessarily introduced much crude material, yet it became evident that the strength of the system to digest such material was gaining perceptibly. It is in the completeness of organization that most has been effected. The increasing of the supervisory powers of the principals of the Grammar Schools has been attended with excellent results. Every step towards relieving them from the special charge of a room, and on the other hand increasing their responsibilitiy as local supervisors, has resulted in great advantage to the Schools. The activity of the superintendent and his assistants in perfecting this system and in organizing the principals into an advisory committee has been instrumental in this work.
It is not sufficient to raise taxes and build school houses, and hire teachers; we must see to it that the directive power is wisely administered. And to this end the Board has very properly discriminated in its schedule of teachers' salaries, placing many grades so high as to serve as continual stimulants for better work from those below. Those teachers who exercise the supervisory power—who are for this reason the main springs of the whole system-should be well paid ; economy demands this, at all events. We desire to see our schools, not as common as possible, but as excellent as possible. And the first step towards this end is to place over the large schools, teachers who honor their profession.
RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. The taxes levied for the support of our schools, aro paid by all denominations alike, and each has the right to have its fcel.. ings respected. While we profess to give the secular and moral elements of education, we as distinctly disclaim all religious tuition. This is left to the people, and each parent is enjoined to see to it that his children receive such religious instructions as his conscience approves. For the furtherance of this end tho school hours are made fow and two entire days in each week remain for this and other special purposes. If parents do a duty thus rendered feasible, no complaints will be heard against our schools for their purely secular character. For it would be as reasonablo to complain of a commercial college, or a gymnasium, or a mercantile establishment, as being "godless” for tho reason that it did not mingle devotional exercises with its other specialities. If our schools were boarding schools and tho
. children entrusted to our charge were removed from the daily control of their parents, then such objection would have weight. But the public school system does not come between the parent and child in matters of individual conscience, but only performs functions that are strictly of a universal character, to wit: to give the child the directive power of à sharpened intelligence and to train his will-power to habits of industry and self-control. These are in all cases auxiliàry to religion, and never in hostility with it.
In conclusion I again commend the public schools to the fostering care of the citizens of St. Louis. Neither partizan nor sectarian in their character, may they always remain what they have proved themselves in times past, the support of true republican principles.