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Consolidation of Rural Schools in Henry County

Creation of the Rural School System in Henry County

The earliest schools in Henry County were subscription schools, in which parents paid the teacher $1 to $2 a month per student.

The first Missouri Constitution, passed in 1820, declared it was the policy of the state to encourage education and promised that the children of the poor should be taught for free. Initially, little was done by the state to carry out those mandates. In 1833 Governor Dunklin appointed a commission led by Joseph Hertich to produce plans for establishment of a public school system in Missouri.

Missouri legislature passed the Geyer Act on February 9, 1839. This act established a permanent fund, using money received from the federal government for land sales in the state, to be invested and the income used to finance the public schools of the state. The office of State Superintendent of Schools was established, with the job of directing and expanding the Missouri school system. The local township councils were named as the local authority to encourage public education and to organize schools. The Geyer Act plan was patterned on the system of the state of Virginia. It proved only partially effective, principally because the funding provided by the permanent fund was woefully inadequate to the task.

On February 24, 1853 the state school system was reorganized. This act provided for the establishment of county commissions to examine teachers as to their qualifications. It allowed the state to suggest courses and textbooks. Most importantly, it dedicated a sizable portion of the state revenue to be spent in aid of public schools. By 1858 the state was spending $309,000 - nearly one fourth of its income - for aid to the schools. The first school district in Henry County was formed in 1837. The state early began funding public education, and state school payments amounted to 30 cents per pupil in 1852 and 42 cents in 1854. By 1857 the county had been divided into 20 regular school districts. (Apparently, one for each survey township.)

In 1872 the county had a total of 84 white and 4 colored schools and by 1875 this had risen to a total of 98 schools in all.

In 1880 the census showed 8,044 children of school age and the county had 115 school houses, 108 owned and 7 of them rented. Total value of school property was set at $79,835.00. There were 178 teachers, 103 men and 75 women, who were paid an average salary of $33.57 a month

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Why Consolidation?

The movement for consolidation and reorganization of rural schools had a number of driving forces, but the most potent force in requiring the consolidation of schools was a simple question of demographics. The population of Henry County actually reached its peak in the 1890 census, with a total county population of 28,235. At this time the major towns in the county hd a total population of 8,920, (Calhoun, 698, Clinton, 4,737, Deepwater, 1,102, Montrose, 644, Urich, 312, and Windsor, 1,427), giving the county a rural and small town population of 19,315.

By the time of the 1940 census the population of Henry County had fallen by 21% to just 22,313. The population of the major towns in the county had risen by 17% to 10,483 (Calhoun, 521, Clinton, 6,041, Deepwater, 956 Montrose, 487, Urich, 465, and Windsor, 2,373), giving the county a rural and small town population of 11,830, a nearly 40% decrease in the total number of persons in the rural portion of the county.

The official population of Henry County would drop a further 18% to bottom out in the 1970 census, at 18,451. At this time the population of the major towns had further increased to 12, 127 (Calhoun, 360, Clinton, 7,504, Deepwater, 565, Montrose, 531, Urich, 433, and Windsor, 2,734), leaving a rural and small town population for the county of just 6,324 - less than a third of what it had been 80 years previous. Changes in the life span, the size of a family, and other factors further reduced the effective count by reducing the percentage of the rural population that was of school age, so that by 1970 the school age population of the rural areas was probably no more than one fourth what it had been in 1890.

Early Steps towards Consolidation

In 1901 the Missouri legislature authorized the formation of consolidated school districts. In 1903 the state passed a law requiring that all teachers in a county attend a three day teachers conference before the start of each school year.

The Norris School District was organized in about 1908, as what is believed to be the first consolidated rural school district in Missouri. Norris School, fed by the four rural elementary schools of the Norris C-1 District, opened in 1910 in rented space at Norris. In 1915 a two-story brick school building was built at Norris for the High School. Norris High School graduated its last class in 1953.

The Blairstown city schools at some point consolidated with several nearby rural districts. In 1939 besides the grade and high school at Blairstown itself, the district was operating the Brushy, Carrington and Star rural schools.

In 1920 the original frame school at Shawnee Mound was replaced by a 3-story brick building that provided both the grades and a high school. The last class graduated from Shawnee High School in 1943, high school students from the districts around Shawnee Mound thereafter going to Clinton or Norris. In 1950 the new R-3 district centralized all its classes at the Shawnee Mound school building. In 1967 the old brick building burnt down, and was replaced by the present modern single-level facility.

The Coal High School was organized in 1922 and operated its first year in rented quarters, in the Coal Presbyterian Church. In the spring of 1923 a brick school building was erected. It operated for a year or two as a private school before becoming part of the public school system. Coal High School began with a 2-year course, but changed to a 4-year plan in the 1940-1941 school year.

In 1935 the first bus was constructed to bring the rural students of the Clinton High School into town.

See also:

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The 1949 Re-organization Plan

In 1931 the Missouri legislature passed a law providing for equalization funds for the poorer school districts, so they could be brought up to minimum standards using additional state funding.

In 1948 the Missouri legislature passed the Hawkins School Reorganization Act to encourage the consolidation of rural school districts into larger and more efficient units. Under this act any reorganized school district had to have an average daily attendance of at least 100 pupils and an assessed valuation or property in the district of $500,000. As a result of the act, a plan of consolidation was developed for the school districts in Henry County.

The initial proposal, announced in February of 1949, included three separate plans.

The existing school districts in March voted about 4 to 1 in favor of Plan I and this plan was forwarded to the state. (This was not a public election, but the decisions of the involved school boards.)

The State Board of Education in June, 1949 proceeded to reject Plan I. The reasons given for the rejection included the proposed continuation of all nine existing high school, six of which the state considered to have no promise of increased enrollment; the wide variation in assessed valuation per enrolled pupil, the duplication of services, and the failure to settle boundary lines of districts which overlapped in the plans of Johnson and St. Clair County.

In spite of the rejection, the Henry County Board of Education resubmitted the plan virtually unchanged. Since the State Board of Education could only suggest changes, and not require them, Reorganization Plan I was submitted to the voters of Henry County on November 1, 1949 for their approval. In this election 8 of the proposed enlarged districts were approved, and 8 were rejected.

Districts which approved the plan are marked in bold.

The numbering of the districts runs in a zig-zag fashion across the county starting in the northeast corner at Windsor: R-1 (Windsor), R-2 (Merritt), R-3 (Shawnee), R-4 (Norris) and R-5 (Blairstown) east to west on the north end of the county, then R-6 (Urich), R-7 (Land), R-8 (Calhoun) and R-9 (Leesville) west to east, then R-10 (Greenridge), R-11 (Clinton), R-12 (Davis/Ladue) and R-13 (Piper) east to west again, and finally R-14 (Montrose), R-15 (Bear Creek), and R-16 (Deepwater/Brownington) from west to east to finish it off. (The numbering plan mirrors the way sections are designated in a survey township, starting in the northeast corner at 1 and zigzagging east to west then back from west to east to end with section 36 in the southeast corner.)

District R-1:
Oakdale No. 4, Edgewood No. 6 and Windsor
District R-2:
Pleasant View No. 9, Berry No. 2, Liberty No. 8, Hickory Grove No. 10 and Merritt No. 12
District R-3:
Shawnee Mound C-3, Union No. 14, Dunham No. 16, Little Grant No. 17, Comer No. 18 and Huntingdale No. 19
District R-4:
Cornett No. 24 and Norris C-1
District R-5:
Bee Branch No. 26 and Blairstown
District R-6:
Enterprise No. 28, Oak Grove No. 29, Hickory Grove No. 30, Maple Grove No. 31, Lucas No. 32, Hartwell No. 34 and Urich.
District R-7:
Garland No. 33, White No. 35, Curtis No. 37, Collins No. 38, Land No. 39, Fields Creek No. 40 and Deer Creek No. 44
District R-8:
Crews No. 3, Powell No. 7, Plum Grove No. 11, Highland No. 13, Lewis No. 42, East No. 41, Bronaugh No. 43, Oakland No. 45, Moore No. 46, Roseland No. 47, George No. 48 and Calhoun
District R-9:
Leesville No. 49, Hortense No. 50, Logan No. 51, Shady Grove No. 52, Turner No. 53, Coal No. 54 and Mound Springs No. 99
District R-10:
Star No. 55, Freedom No. 56, Pretty Bob No. 57, Green Ridge No. 58, Bethlehem No. 59, Surprise No. 91 and Richland No. 92
District R-11:
Russell No. 60 and Clinton
District R-12:
Marvin No. 36, Independence No. 63, Mount Carmel No. 64, Mound No. 65, Elm Branch No. 66, Ladue No. 67 and Willow Branch No. 68
District R-13:
Camp Branch No. 69, White Oak No. 70, Cleveland No. 71, American No. 72, Piper No. 73 and Aurora No. 74
District R-14:
Mt. Hope No. 75, Maple Grove No. 76, Wagner No. 77, Enterprise No. 78, Browning No. 79 and Montrose
District R-15:
Glenwood No. 80, Franklin No. 81, Lone Vale No. 82, Farmers Institute No. 83, Antioch No. 84, Lookout No. 85, Shiloh No. 87 and Glendale No. 90
District R-16:
New Harmony No. 61, Lima No. 62, Fairview No. 86, Tranquility No. 88, Deepwater, Brownington, Columbia Hall No. 93, Hay Creek No. 94, County Line No. 96, Diamond Point No. 97, Finey No. 100 and Prairie Grove No. 101

Note that the Pleasant Valley (No. 89) district had already merged with the Glendale (No. 90) district to form the Pleasant Valley C-4 District.

In the November 1, 1949 election 8 districts approved the consolidation plan,

Districts R-3, R-4, R-5, R-6, R-8, R-9, R-12, and R-13, and 8 districts voted against consolidation, Districts R-1, R-2, R-7, R-10, R-11, R-14, R-15, and R-16.
Of the districts approved:

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1950 Changes and
the start of physical integration

The early part of 1950 saw some tidying up of the system.

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The 1951 Reorganization Plan

In April, 1951 a new plan for reorganization of the remaining small rural school districts in Henry County was submitted to the State Board of Education and the public.

The plan was similar but contained some variations, especially in the southern part of the county.

In District R-2 the Hickory Grove No. 10 district was left out, as it had already merged into the R-3 (Shawnee) District.

Deer Creek No. 44 was taken out of the R-7 (Fields Creek) district and placed in the R-10 (Bethlehem) District. Russell No. 60 was taken out of the R-11 (Clinton) district and placed in the R-7 (Fields Creek) district.

The shift of Russell No. 60 to the R-7 district left the proposed R-11 (Clinton) district with only one member - the Clinton city system - and so the R-11 district was removed from any further consideration.

A much enlarged R-14 district was proposed, consisting of all of the originally proposed R-14 district and all of the original R-15 districts except Shiloh No. 87 and Glendale (which was now part of the Pleasant Valley C-4 district).

The proposed new R-15 district consisted of the originally proposed R-16 plus Shiloh No. 87 and the Pleasant Valley C-4 district from the original R-15 district, and minus the Finey No. 100 district, which was to join with the Benton County R-9 district.

Finally, a new R-16 district was to be created by further consolidating the R-3 Shawnee and R-4 Norris districts.

The plan as offered was:

District R-1:
Oakdale No. 4, Edgewood No. 6 and Windsor
District R-2:
Berry No. 2, Liberty No. 8, Pleasant View No. 9 and Merritt No. 12
District R-7:
Garland No. 33, White No. 35, Curtis No. 37, Collins No. 38, Land No. 39, Fields Creek No. 40 and Russell No. 60
District R-10:
Deer Creek No. 44, Star No. 55, Freedom No. 56, Pretty Bob No. 57, Green Ridge No. 58, Bethlehem No. 59, Surprise No. 91 and Richland No. 92
District R-11:
District R-14:
Mt. Hope No. 75, Maple Grove No. 76, Wagner No. 77, Enterprise No. 78, Browning No. 79, Glenwood No. 80, Franklin No. 81, Lone Vale No. 82, Farmers Institute No. 83, Antioch No. 84, Lookout No. 85 and Montrose
District R-15:
Shiloh No. 87, Pleasant Valley C-4, New Harmony No. 61, Lima No. 62, Fairview No. 86, Tranquility No. 88, Deepwater, Brownington No. 95, Columbia Hall No. 93, Hay Creek No. 94, County Line No. 96, Diamond Point No. 97 and Prairie Grove No. 101
District R-16:
District R-3 (Shawnee) and District R-4 (Norris)

Districts which approved the plan are marked in bold.

In the October 25, 1951 election 3 of the new proposed districts were approved. They were the R-1 (Windsor), the R-2 (Merritt), and the R-14 (Montrose) districts.

Voted down were the R-7 (Land), R-10 (Greenridge), R-15 (Deepwater), and the R-16 (combined Shawnee - Norris) districts.

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Other Changes in 1951

On July 17, 1951 the R-6 (Urich) district approved a $70,000 bond issue to construct a major addition to the school at Urich. The Hartwell school was closed and sold in 1951. The new addition at Urich was completed in the summer of 1952 and the Lucas school was closed and sold. This concentrated all R-6 operations at Urich.

On July 17, 1951 the R-13 (Piper) district voted 68 to 61 against a bond issue to raise $28,000 for a new consolidated school to be located at Piper.

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Changes in 1952 and after

An election was held on April 1, 1952 to determine the status of the former Oakland and Roseland districts, and a portion of the former Lewis District, which were part of the R-8 (Calhoun) District. The voters in the R-1 District voted to accept the transfer of Oakland and Roseland and the voters in the Curtis No. 39 district voted to accept transfer of part of the old Lewis District, but the voters in the R-8 District voted to retain all three areas.

The R-1 and R-8 boards filed appeals to the election results and County Superintendent of Schools appointed an arbitration board to resolve the matter. After hearing all sides, the Arbitration board voted to remove the Oakland and Roseland districts from the R-8 (Calhoun) District and add them to the R-1 (Windsor) District. They also voted to keep the portion of the Lewis District with the R-8 (Calhoun) District and not add it to the Curtis (No. 37) District.

On April 26, 1956 the Logan School, located near Tightwad and part of the Leesville R-9 District, burned down. (The building had been built in 1890.) The Shady Grove school, closed but still in place, was reopened to finish the term. On May 22nd the decision was made to rebuilt the school, and the new school was ready when classes resumed in the Fall of 1956.

In May of 1956 the New Harmony school closed. Its pupils were bused to Clinton starting in the fall of 1956. The Shiloh School also closed, its pupils being bused to Pleasant Valley C-4 starting in the fall of 1956.

In May of 1957 the Diamond Point school was closed; its pupils would thereafter be bused to Deepwater.

In April of 1957 the proposed R-15 District was brought up once more. The district was to include the Deepwater school system, Pleasant Valley C-4 system, New Harmony 61, Lima 62, Fairview 86, Shiloh 87, Tranquility 88, Columbia Hall 93, Hay Creek 94, Brownington 95, County Line 96, Diamond Point 97, Prairie Grove 101, and the Harris Bend 2 and Smith Bend 3 districts from St. Clair County.

The Lime and New Harmony districts promptly held elections in May of 1957. Lima voted 18 to 7 to seek annexation to the Clinton district. New Harmony voted 16 to 15 against annexation, but made it clear that it did not want to be part of the proposed R-15 district. In June the Lima District was accepted into the Clinton School District, effective July 1, 1957.

The R-15 Plan, minus Lima and New Harmony, was sent to the state on October 1, 1957 and approved by the State Board of Education on October 25, sending it back for a vote of the people. On December 10, 1957 the R-15 consolidation was approved by the voters by a 3 to 1 margin, and the new R-15 District came into existence in January of 1958. (Of the rural districts in the consolidation, Fairview, Shiloh, Hay Creek, Diamond Point and Prairie Grove had already closed their schools and started busing their students either to Deepwater or Pleasant Valley C-4.

Notes: At a later date: More notes: from Deepwater Centennial History: More notes: Lowry City Centennial and other sources: Additional notes:

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