The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas on October 10, 1950 · Page 64
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The Courier News from Blytheville, Arkansas · Page 64

Blytheville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 10, 1950
Page 64
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BLYTHEVILLE COURIER NEWS BLYTHEVILLE, ARKANSAS, TUESDAY, OCTOBEI Section D Pages 1-20 Early Teachers »Faced Struggle Against Big Odds Today's School Set-Up Got Start in One-Room Cabin 114 Years Ago One of t,he bright .spots in the evolution ,of .Mississippi County from a backwoods country into the great agricultural center it is today is tfie progress , that has been made in education. .In a little more'than a quarter of a century, the educational facilities of this area have evolved .from an Ill-equipped, one-room school house, which at times was Inaccessable because of bad weather, to a svstem of modern, well-equipped buildings, reached by school buses operated nn veil-kept roads In all kinds of weather.. These existing facilities'were not attained overnight. They are the results of a bitter struggle waged down through the years by individuals who, despite scanty finances and pioneer clay hardships, laid a foundation on which the present, system rests. . 'jL As a result of the labors of these ~ persons who refused to denv their children.some sort of an education —incomplete though it be—the Educational progress of thh county has more than kept pace with the as>ri- cnltural. economical and religious advancement which this area has el" ! " i yc!d. - T.iray the 16 school districts thai H-ke mi Mj.-iissippi County's school system. Include some 10 modem buildings, valued at S2.708.050, anc equipment valued at SK20.321. Contrast S v ow<i Progress Contrast this with the few one re-mi huts, containing r6r/ghly : m'a'd ll'rnlture, that marked the beginning cf education In the county and the e.tleit of nr^eress that ha town made can be easily ascer Jv""--:>.tion sot its start In this av* in a onc-r""!!! U:? sc'-irjol house \\--\\ was established jiist north ol .O-ceola in 183S. John W. DeWHt uj»">'lhe "school '""as"'a"' sofecrlpfton svinl. and became the county's A three-mmith lei in was offered pi>'>!l 5 at S1.50 a month, and al- '^.tnoi'gh there were at least 900 white ~ residents In the county at that time Mr. DeWitt had only 20 pupils the first year. Fo'.ir years later that n 1 vber Increased lo 25. Ctl-t-r subscription schools which spr.-ii'j up and private tutors which ma-' of the larger landowners' pro- vic'ed for their children marked the prc-"-css of education in the. area i'ii-'il even that «-,<s stopped by the Civil War. Despite the handicap of postwar conditions, education took a new foothold after the war and by 1873 the county was divided Into 16 scnool districts and was receiving wney from the stale school fund Thres years later, the county's first teachers' meeting was held. fhe Hireling was held in Osceola wilh Dr. P. M. Pettey. county examiner at the time, presiding and seven teachers attending. Floods Halt Building A- brief era of building school houses was halted bv a period of floods "beginning tn the 1880's, and for a time education was neglected M the people were forced to lend their constructive talents to homes. However,-by 1889 the number of school districts had Increased lo 29. with almost r.,000 children of school Progress Is Bright Spot in Evolution of County Blylhcvitl* Senior High School I^tnge Grade School Yarbro School Cos n ell School Mo-'-m buildings began to make theii «ppearmice hi the smaller dis- trirts by 1900 and qualifications for teachers became more strict. J. H. Rilev. county examiner of that day. required all teachers to attend teachers meetings, subscribe to t,h? Arkansas School Journal and the cotirt.y "newspaper and be fa mlliar with the Arkansas school law Si».rtly after 1900. brick school buildings made their appearance in the county when the Central Ward grade school \vent up In Blylhe- vilte. By IJOS, the first-brick school house had been erected In Osceoln »nd within the next few years, olh- rrs were bnili «'l Lnxora and Manila Ii. 1&19, the building program exceeded a record $350.000. Ten years later, the Misstssipp; Conrily system Included 4fi districts with 10,824 school children enrolled The snortest term ran for four months, while the longest ran for ten. The average length of the school term was 8.3 months. Four Have "A" Rallnm Seven four-year high schools were Included In the 46 districts, f-xir ol them with Class A ratings. Luxora. Osccola. i Wilson and Bly- .nevlne "ere this holders of Class A rsl'ngs, and In addition, the last l»o named were members of the North Central Association, the rating a high school can elive even todr.v. In addition, four other schools .r»re*ulempiing to do some kind of high school work. A glance at the high school en- rol'ment ', of that day AS compared with the total enrollment shows that most' of tht pupils were not continuing high school work after finishing the eighth grade. This was both because oi the lack of facilities and because of the lack of a desire by many to pursue education furtKr. Ql Ine 10,824 children enrolled In th« county, on I/ TVS it- Harrison (Negro) High School tended high school. Mother Interesting thing to note Is. that less than 100 pupils were transported to high schools in: the countv ay public or private conveyance during the "1928-29 school year Aiier the year 1929. there came a period of consolidation. . important factors In this movement were ihe Unproved roads »'nd better transportation conveyances. Also the depression ol the Thirties brought the need for economy. •Eaiiy -examples of consolidation wert Slmwnee and Keiser, but it asr.'i lang.until buses were, in operation In almost all parts of the county :" Total of Dlstrltls Shrinks. By 1936, tue niimbV of districts had shrunk to 41, but there were 108 sc.\ools In tht 'O'lnty—3» of them ^fcg o—and the <ystehi owned prop- eily valued at JU50.000. •>.e 1936-37 school year showed an enrollment of. 12.817 while "pupils and 4,483 Negroes for a total en- i.illmrhl of n.310. Thr last 15 years have seen a continuation oi consolidation of school districts but a rapid expan- j(on if facilities throughout the entire system. Minor improvements have been made all along, such as ,iom; economic huts, vocational ae"i'""liure huts, gymnasiums, cafe- te.-las, better ll<rhUng, water and sewer systems and thousands of dollars of repair v;ork. Just before World War II, a major building project, got under "wny and In the early null's beautiful new brick and stone buildings were built at Armorel and Luxora The wAr brought a halt to this program and until about 1946 school officials marked time. wait- Ing for the time when materials, funds and manpower would be available again to continue the program. The population or Mississippi Countv outgrew the school facilities during the war and as the «otir« country txgwi U build, «o did the school system. Still Expanding This expansive program Is sill on today. At the present time, new buildings are either . just being started or are almost completed In 13 >of the county's 18, districts. This program, costing »1,634,156 includes everything from schoo buildings and gymnasium to addl tIons to already existing buildings More than W20.000 of this build ing expenditure Is being spent it lilylhevllle district where a new Negro high school building was only recently completed and a ne» sen tor high building for while slu dents has just been started. A new elementary school Is al most ready for iise in Osceola U complete an expansion program I the South County seat costing ap proxlmately $213,000, More than. $150.00 Is being.spen In each Wilson and Manila. Elgh rooms, were recently added to In building and '« con pl«U ntw bJjh acivool U tuuUr onstruction at Manila. | At Lcachville, a $100.000 pro- ram includes a new elementary llldlng now under construction, veiser has just completed an ele- entory building as part of a 75,000 project and Shawnee is pending around $G5,OCO on re- lacing a gym that was destroyed y fire. New Gyms Going tl[t New Gyms are being constructed Vrmorel, Dell, llurcleltc nnU Etownh programs ranging from $30.000 SGO.OOO. In addition Armorc-i's ym will include an auditorium nd cafeteria, ucll Is getting A new :rade school and classrooms nre x:lng added at Etowah. Another i30,000 Is on at Urinkley Dyess is undergoing an extensive epalr program including new roofs <n its school buildings and a compete overhauling of Us heating ystems. In the general election of November, 1048 the passage of Initiated Act No. I climaxed the consolida- lon movement In Arkansas schools, Tills act called for the abolishment of all distric'.s In the stnte with enrollment of Ulan 3.if). Several of the districts in Mls- ilssippi County had already joined have Negro schools. The total assessed valuation of 'orccs when this act becanre effective, and shortly a/lcr its passage county schools were consolidated into the 16 districts which exist today. Fourteen of districts have high schools as compared with the seven of 25 years as;o, and six of these high school— Hlylhrvillr-. Osceola, Shnwncc. Dell,- Wilson and Keiser—are members of the North Central Association. N'o other county In the slate can match this membership. In addition three of the districts —Blythevllle, Osceola and Wilson- have Negro high schools and four others—Armorel, Luxora, Burdette and Shawnee—hav Junior high schools for Negroes. Total Value: S21,!*5.S.5«9 Only Leachville. Mantln, Stltlman Ih4 16 dUtrlcU do uot school property In the county Is S21,955,509. some $1,000,000 more than the $17,530.107 assessed valuation of a quarter of a century ago. Blylhevllle District still has the highest assessed valuation as il did in ihose days, anO ils value lias almost doubled. In 1927, ihis district had a valuation of $3.672,682. and today this has grown Into an Investment of $0,15-1.552. lowest, assessed valuation today Is the Urlnkley District, which Is S225.8U5. A breakdown of the total assessed ilu.ition of the county schoo] sys- em reveals SI2.77I.51C In real es- ate. So.7fi7,55'l in personal property ind $3.1IC.4!)9 in utilities. In the real estate Is Included 45 najor buildings over the district "or white children and 25 buildings "or Negroes. This docs not Include such buildings as home economics luts, gymnasiums and the like. As the Mississippi County school system moved from one period lo another, qualifications for teachers have become correspondingly more strict. ^e.^s than a quarter of a century ago, 81 of the county's 250 Instructors were below the standard qualifications for class A teachers. Only 8EI was the highest on record. However, year's averages have not yet been released and may have been higher. Enrollment has varied as much as other factors in the school tern In the past 20 to 25 years, fn the 1927-28 school year there were 13,608 white pupils enrolled. 10,069 In elementary schools ant! in high schools. Ko figures were available as to the number ol Negroes. During Ihe 1936-37 term there were 17.310 enrolled In all schools with 12,817 whites and 4.493 Negroes. Twelve years 'later. In 1948-49 records reveal an overall total 20,734 pupils. Dividing this total by Die 541 te.'ichcrs in the county shows lhat there Is one loacher tor approximately every 38 pupils. Of Ihls total enrollment there arc 10.829 whiles and 4.168 Negroes li the elcmcnlary grades and 4.123 white., and 614 Negroes In senior high schools. Finances Cause Worry One of Ihe big worries from the beginning was how lo obl.iln finances to sup|x>rt Ihe system. Various tan systems have provided funds throughout HA history, and of 36 had as much as four years college, and 31 had less than four years high school Iralnlng. Today, well over half the county's 43<i while anil 105 Negro teachers .OSAM.I bnchclor's degree.*. formerly It was possiule to obtain a Job leaching by simply pass- Ing an examination, but today a leacher must have at least 30 hours of college work to his or her credll. Salaries Hit Bottom Salaries for teachers hit a rock- bottom In the 1932-31. school term when the depression Inspired yearly average for Instructors was about $346. This average was held down by many .teachers who taught only three or four months a year. Tht lM»-« salary tvemgi of I course Ihe early paid Ihelr ow depression of hit the system wilh subscription Thirties a resounding Many Veterans ' In Teaching Field Still on Ihe Job S«v«rol Educators Hav« Records of 20 To 50 Y«ar« Scrvic* where h« Is attending, If lh» bcwrd sees /It, and the lalter must b* charged tuition becaust of a. itaU law which requires it. Records for Ihe 1946 term are 110^ itl available, but during the 19M- 49 term, county schools were operated at a cost of $1.583,170.98. Biggest expenditure was In the Bly^ hevllle district where (334,304 was spent, Per capita expenditure for Hie entire system was »78.36 per pupil as compared with a 122.20 per capita in 1928-39. Varlotn Soiireet of Fundi • Thl» money was supplied by >»- rlous wurccs. including vocation funds. community school fund, equalliatlon transportation fund, teachers' salary fund, county gen^ eral fund, local taxes and miscellaneous receipts. As has been mentioned, the present county school system embrace* 1« districts with s« of the 70 school* running nine-month terms and U others running eight. These dlstrlcti are not. numbered consecutively, but maintain the number they wer« given when created. "-, They Include oiceola, No. I; Lu»- ora, No. 2; Blytheville. No. 5; Oos- nell, No. «;,Armorel, No. 9; Shawnee, No. 10: Manila, No IS; Dell, No, 23; Wilson, No. JS; Kel«er, No, 11; Burdette, No. JS; Etowah, No. 3«; Leachvtlle, No. 40; Brinkley, No.' S2; stlllmaK, Mo. 56 and DyesB, No! M. ' • The • dmliilAtratlon of the couni ty system Is heWed by a county • supervisor, who at th« present ttm» It John MayM. - . , He U a**lat«d by » oollnty Board of Kduotlon whkh hat fiv« mem- ben, one being elected from eacri of four «one» Into which the roun- ty U divided and lh« fifth being a member at large. Zone I Includea *y.' io'ri* I Blythevllle, Arrhorel, JurdetUi and Ooiiriell; Tone > c*c«,-' olft,*IiUxora;"Ktow^h and Kelser-and »oh« 4 IWIlson, Btlllman, 8haYvrie» The pre-^ent board U made up of O. B. Children, «ont I; C/F.lTomp- ui, y>ne 3, O. B. SeagravM ion* O. J. Lowrance, jont 4 and F. A. Rogers, Member at Large. 14 DkrtrltU Ran Superintendent* Fourteen of the<]« district* »r» nder the direction of a superln- :endent. The other two—Brinklef and BUIIriian—are under the *up- eryj.sion of the ebunty auperlsor Present district • superintendent are C. Franklin Bander*, Osceala; T. D. Wilklns. Luxora: W. B. Nicholson. Blytheville; T. C. LuciuA, Oosnell; Hugh L. Smith. Shawnee; W. W. Fowler, Manila; A. E. Cald-' well, Dell; Philip J. Deer, Wilson; C. M. Dial, Keiser; A. A. Norton, Etownh; C. J. Merryman, Leach- vtlle; Frailer Watson, Dyew and !>. H. Autry. Burdette. Each district also has Its board of director* and school principals.. All districts except Blythevllle and Osceola have five-member boards with tlie term of one member expiring eery year and the succeeding member, being elected for • lerm of five years. Blythevllle has eight members with the terms of two members expiring annually and new members serving three years. Every threa years, four members are elected to thice year terms. ' Osccola ha.s six members, and elects two members annually to seive three years each. To list all the individuals who have had a hand tn helping this system grow into the effective In- sllutlon It is today would be practically Impossible. But there ar« today several persons still within the systems who have been Instrumental In helping It grow for lh« past 20 years or more and wh« deserve mcnlioning. Teaches 51 years Probably the dean of this group is Mis. Delia o/.ee, elementary teacher In the Gosnell District. Mrs. has been teaching for 51 yean —41 of them In Mississippi Coun- Horn In Illinois, she began her leaching career Ihere in 1893 and came to Mississippi County in 1907. She taught for 20 years at the Perry school near Shonyo and later a Daughtcry. Ekron. and Barfield schools which no'longer exist. She has been at Gosnell for the past 11 years nnd during her long lenur» has taught every grade from thi first to Ihe 12th. A close second to'Mrs. Ozce 1» smack, and because lands were valued so low, laxfts were not equal to the task of providing necessary funds and many went lacking. Blytheville- partially solved the problem by charging senior high pupils tuition for several years. However none of the other schools atemptcd this, and Blythevllle later dropped the idea. The only persons charged tuition in ihe county today are pupils who live In one district and attend school In .another and persons 21 years or older. Mrs. Rosa Hardy, supervisor of th» Blytheville Junior and Senior High Schools, who has been connected with the county schools 33 years. Mrs. Hardy, a native of Tennessee, cast her lot with the Blythevlll* Disrlct In 19H «s a leacher and three years later became principal of the high school. She continued In this capacity for 31 years, relinquishing this post In 1946 to take over her present duties. Other veteran tutors «t Gosnell are .\fts .Lucille Baggett, primary teacher who has served the county .„., . i system 20 ye»rs, and \frs. Nf. A. The former can be charged tul- Se« STRUGl.r. AGAINST « ra« I tion bjr UK datrlct tchool board |

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