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Rappel, Joseph J. / A centennial history of the Manitowoc County school districts and its public school system, 1848-1948
([1948])

School administration town, county, and city school superintendents,   pp. 6-7 PDF (891.9 KB)


Page 6


                         SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION
       TOWN. COUNTY, AND CITY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS
    Contrary to the belief of the average citizens in Manitowoc county and
of Wiscon-
sin, the first district ichools, as organized under the legislative act of
1848, were not
under the supervision of a county superintendent of schools. The legislature
of 1848
created the office of town superintendent of schools. That official administered
the
district schools within his town until the law was repealed in 1861. No qualification
standards were set up for this school official, so any voter could be and
was elected
to this important position. He was a town official elected at the annual
town meeting
for one year. His salary was one dollar per day for every day actually and
necessar-
ily devoted to the service for which he was elected.
    The state legislature which created the office of town superintendent
invested
that official with far-reaching powers of administration and supervision.
Some of
them were as follows:
    (1) To divide the town into school districts and to regulate and alter
their boun-
         daries. An appeal could be made to the state superintendent from
the deci-
         sion of the town superintendent.
    (2) To apportion the school moneys received from the county and town
treas-
         urers to the several districts in proportion to the number of children
residing
         in each over the age of four years and under the age of twenty years.
    (3) To transmit to the county clerk a detailed annual summary of the
reports of
         the district clerks. The county clerk made an annual report to the
state
         superintendent.
    (4) To examine teachers and to issue 6ertificates authorizing the holder
to teach
         for a period of one year, and to annul such certificates when he
thought it
         proper.
    (5) To visit the schools in his town, examine into the state and condition
of such
         schools, and, in his discretion, to give advice to teachers and
district boards
         in regard to the studies to be pursued and the government of the
schools.
    If a person competent and willing to serve could have been secured for
each town
to act as superintendent of schools, the system might have been more successful,
but
a competent man could not be found in every town and, besides, there was
not enough
work to keep one man busy the entire year. As a result, the man selected
considered
the superintendency a side issue. devoting only as much time to his office
as he thought
his neighbors would stand for. He lived in such close relations to the people
who elect-
ed him that he rarely exercised discretionary powers for fear that he might
antago-
nize his neighbors. He was careful not to spend too many days away from his
farm
or other business attending to his duties as superintendent of schools, because
that
would augment the number of dollars in his salary, which in turn might endanger
his re-election.
     The town superintendent often disregarded decisions and requirements
of the
 state superintendent, so that the legislature of 1859 passed an act declaring
that every
 town superintendent who neglected or refused to carry into effect any decision
or
 order of the state superintendent, was liable to removal from office by
the town board
 of supervisors. But no town superintendent was ever removed from office
by a town
 board.
     The names of town superintendents serving the various towns from 1848
tot 1862
 are incomplete. Those known through school records are:
     Cato: D. B. Knapp, N. A. Harris, S. Bailey.
     Cooperstown: J. Saeger, W. M. Christ.
     Franklin: N. A. Harris, Michael Touhey, Patrick Hogan, Michael Keehan.
     Liberty: Dominic Schneider, Ole Oppen.
     Manitowoc: A. W. Preston.
     Manitowoc Rapids: R. B. Mupon.
     Maple Grove: Cornelius Lynch, John Cannon.
     Newton: John Stephenson.
     Others: Samuel House, H. C. Hamilton, H. H. Smith, and a Mr. Heap.
     On April 6, 1861, the state school laws were amended by the passage
of an act
 creating the office of county superintendent of schools. That official was
to be elected
 for a two year term at the fall election on a partisan ticket. The first
election was held
 in, the fall of 1861 and the elected official took his office on January
1, 1862. The par.
 tisan election remained in effect until 1904 after which the county superintendent
of
 schools was then elected on a non-partisan ticket at the spring election
and took office
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