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The following tabular statement exhibits the steady progress in the school interests of the State, for several years past:
The view of our school interests, exhibited by the foregoing statistics, considering that it has been a year of war and consequent public commotions, is highly satisfactory, and shows a very healthful vigor in our school system. The average number of months of school has been diminished by but one tenth of a month. The school revenues and expenditures have both been reduced somewhat in amount; but the number of children who have been taught in the schools has increased 4,828.
An unaccountable diminution appears in the income from the Two Mill tax. The amount of this tax reported in 1861, was $278,350 68, while the amount reported for 1862, was $248,934 28, or nearly $30,000 less than last year. Evidently there is some error in the reports, or there was a wide failure on the part of the Supervisors, the past year. to assess this tax.
The amount paid during the year for building and repairing schoolhouses, was $112,877 96. Some part of this was doubtless expended in payment of debts for houses previously erected; but still, a considerable number of new school buildings have been erected during the year, and some of them large and elegant structures.
The amount apportioned from the interest of the Primary School Fund was much larger than ever before; exceeding, in
deed, the annual income of the fund, as it included a balance which was not received in time for distribution the year previous. The amount to each scholar was 50 cents, while the year before, it was only 42 cents. The total amount apportioned was $126,464 16, while the total income of the fund was about $115,128 00.
But the question which will most interest the intelligent friend of the schools is, How many of the schools were free? How many of them offered their privileges to all the children in their vicinity, “without money and without price"? How much progress has the State made toward the fulfillment of that wise and noble provision in her Constitution which binds her to provide the grand boon of free instruction, for at least three months each year, to all of her children? The statistics, in reply to these questions, show us 2,364 districts reporting no rate bills and which have, therefore, free schools. This is an increase of 360 free schools over the number reported the year previous; but this still leaves 1,904 schools not free,-schools on which the incubus of the rate bill rests, and in which the most beneficent provision of our Constitution remains a dead letter.
Looking at the cost of instruction in all the schools, and at the públic means provided for meeting this expense, we find that the total wages of all the teachers for the average six months of school, were $491,293 57. The total resources for the payment of teachers, deducting the amount raised by rate bills, amounted to $471,233 21; leaving a deficiency of only $20,060 36 in the amount required to make all the schools in the State free for six months. By reason of our present bad method of apportioning the proceeds of the two mill tax, the rate bills raised to meet this deficiency amounted to $43,202 76, or more than $23,000 more than would have been required if & better system of apportionment could be had. The income from the Primary School fund and the Two Mill tax-the two great, permanent sources of funds for the payment of teachers wages—was $375,398 44, a sum which would have made every school in the State free for more than four and a half months.
Under the light of these facts, the question now rises impressively before us, Has not the time come to put the Constitution in force, and require every district in the State to keep its school open three months in the year “without charge for tuition”? Ought not the Legislature now to obey the organic law of the State; and, having provided means for the support of Free Schools, ought it not to decree that each district must henceforth furnish free instruction for all its children three months in each year, under penalty of forfeiture ol its share of the public school funds ? To me, the duty seems evident and imperative, and the policy wise and beneficent. The passage of such a law would mark an era in the history of our schools from which to date a more eminent usefulness and a higher success?
No inconsiderable number of the larger schools are now free, and the majority of the graded schools are made free by a district tax. The invariable testimony of these districts is, that making their schools free has greatly enhanced their prosperity. The attendance is larger and more regular, the public sympathy is more generous, and the school is freed from all the fluctuations caused by rate bill panics. The long array of unanswer. able arguments in favor of free schools, drawn from the rights of childhood to education and the duty and right of the State to educate its future citizens, need not be re-urged here. The doctrine of free schools is too well settled to require any new defence.
EDUCATIONAL FUNDS. The Primary School Fund amounted, the 30th day of November, 1861, to....
$1,698,857 14 Sales of School Lands for the year 1862, am’t,...
Forfeitures to be deducted, about........
$1,709 136 66
Total amount of Fund, November 30, 1862, . $1,679,136 66 The forfeitures were much larger than usual, owing, doubtless, to the discouragement of the business of the country in consequence of the war.
The income from the Fund for the year, was $115,128 91. As a result of the cheapening of money, and the consequent reduction of rates of interest, an increased amount was paid during the last year by the purchasers of the lands, into the Treasury. These payments, as reported by the Commissioner of the Land Office, amounted to $35,030 74. The University Fund, on the 30th day of November, 1862, amounted to...
:.... $526,145 74 This includes the $100,000 of State bonds charged to the Fund, but on which the interest is remitted by law. The income of this Fund for the year was $37,127 40. Only 80 acres of University Lands were sold during the year, amounting to $480 00.
The Normal School Fund yielded a revenue for the year, of $4,249 24. Eighty acres of the Normal School Lands were sold during the year, for $320 00.
The moneys due the Primary School Fund, from the sales of Swamp Lands, under the law of 1858, have never yet bcen credited to this Fund. I would renew my recommendation that these moneys, instead of being added to the Primary School Fund proper, be constituted a separate fund, and the income to be devoted to the training of teachers for the Primary Schools, by Teachers' Institutes and Normal classes.
By an act of Congress, approved July 2, 1862, an amount of public lands equal to 30,000 acres for each Senator and Representative the State is entitled to under the census of 1860, is tendered the State. This will amount, in gross, to 240,000 acres, or a quantity more than five times as large as the University quantity was. The conditions of the grant are that the entire moneys arising from the sale of these lands "shall be invested in stocks of the United States, or of the States, or some other safe stocks, yielding not less than 5 per centum apon the par value of said stocks ; and that the moneys so invested shall constitute a perpetual fund," the interest of which shall be inviolably appropriated “to the endowment, support and maintenance of at least one College, where the leading ob. ject shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to Agriculture and the Mechanio Arts, in such manner as the Legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe.” It is also provided that “a sum not exceeding ten per centum upon the amount received by any State under the provisions of this act, may be expended for the purchase of lands for sites or experimental farms whenever authorized by the respective Legislatures of said States."
“ No portion of said fund, nor the interest thereon, shall be applied directly, or indirectly, under any pretence whatever to the purchase, erection, preservation or repair of any building or buildings." "No State shall be entitled to the benefits of this act, unless it shall express its acceptance thereof by its legislature within two years from the date of its approval by the President.”
It will be seen that this munificent donation will afford the means of establishing an institution second to no other in the State in magnitude and importance. A school of agriculture and mechanic arts supported by so ample a fund as this, will command success. It will not be doubted that a wise policy will require that the first use of this grant, in this State, should be to endow the State Agricultural College, and thus insure the future prosperity and growth of this institution, and relieve the State of the burden of its support. A second and not less important end will be the establishment of a military school, either separate, or connected with some other institution. The events of this great rebellion have amply demonstrated the im. policy of providing military education through a single great national institution. They have also furnished proof as certain as sad of the vital need still existing of military education, and of a military education much more general than has heretofore prevailed in this country. With a national future from