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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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KCKS Public School System, 1819-1961
by Nellie McGuinn
Copyright USD 500, Feb 1966

Return to Previous Section 1896

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1897

Private as well as public money was scarce.  Little building had gone on for several years, but new residents moved to Kansas City creating problems in school accommodations and housing.  For a long time there were few, if any, houses for rent.  Huron Place was cleaned up to the point that a series of band concerts was given there.  The crowds arrived on summer evenings to cool off and to listen to the music.

The board decided in March, 1897, that the library should be incorporated as a separate body in order to get certain monies under the state law.  The library group was named the Public Library Association of Kansas City, Kansas.  The board turned over books, papers, etc., to the association, but reserved the right to name one third of the directors.  The association leased the second floor of the Wyandotte State (formerly National) Bank at Fifth and Minnesota, with an opinion on the third floor, if needed.

Five years before, the Federation of Clubs planned a library, a small one in the Board of Education rooms.  In 1897 there were 1500 volumes in the five rooms of the old Northrup Bank Building.  Members numbered 407 and high school students had free tickets.  Members of the Board of Directors were:  W. E. Barnhart, President; Edward Haren, Secretary; Sarah A. Richart; Reba S. Freeman; Sara Judd Greenman; Lillian Walker Hale; Mrs. Bronson; Honorable C. K. Wells; Arthur (probably Alfred) Weston; J. C. Cruise; Mrs. Mary Farrow, Librarian.

Something must have happened to the Normal Training course established in the high school at Riverview and continued after the move.  In January, 1897, Superintendent Hanks asked the board to arrange for a Teachers' Training School to begin the following year.  Three teachers, at the time of his request, were needed at Riverview, Central and Long second grades for relief work.  Teachers were unable to do their work under such crowded conditions.

At last the legislature passed a law permitting a levy of twelve mills for cities over 40,000 population.  Kansas City was the only city in the state affected by the ruling.  Mr. Hanks was credited, or blamed as the viewpoint might be, for the law.  His enemies accused "Alphabet Hanks" for "sneaking" off to Topeka to get the legislature to increase school taxes, four mills on the dollar.  As superintendent of schools, they said, he had no right to do so.

Until the schools obtained financial relief, shifts were made in classes.  The 8A class at Reynolds and Armstrong moved to RiverviewMorse's 8B transferred to Armourdale School, and the 5B at McAlpine went to Riverview and Central.  A committee sent to Topeka was assured of legislative help with money problems.  The board first appealed for a $75,000 bond election, but later reduced the sum to $60,000.

The high school's capacity of 470 was exceeded by 57 students.  School officials hoped that the opening of Kansas City University with county high school, Wilson High, on the campus, would reduce the immediate need for a new high school building.  The board called for a special election to be held in April.  The $60,000 in bonds, if passed, would mature $10,000 at a time beginning in fourteen years.  Superintendent Hanks wanted also an increase in teachers' salaries.

Insufficient interest by the public caused the defeat of the bond issue by 72 votes, although in his address to the graduating class President Barnhart had made a plea to parents.  Without issuing bonds, the board had the power to levy a tax.  In three years there might be enough money to build.  A contract for a three-room addition to Everett School was awarded in June to Charles J. Jones.  Boilers and radiators installed in 1881 had to be replaced.  Long, Reynolds, and Morse needed more room.  Phillips, colored school in Armourdale, was the only school with too few pupils.

Extra examinations for teachers were announced during the summer and the rule for substitutes to have four and one-half months teaching experience was suspended.  One group of girls made the newspaper pages when a former teacher was accused of obtaining examination questions from a board member for them.  The paper threatened to furnish the names of all concerned in the transaction.

The music program under Miss Amanda Weber had proved successful.  The board ordered a drawing course on the same footing as music and Miss S. Wells was appointed to teach a class and to give drawing lessons.  She received a salary increase of $18.

Teachers asked for rooms for summer school and many were refused.  The superintendent announced an Educational Chautaugua on school methods to be held before school started for the benefit of teachers.  As an educator, the Chautauqua proved successful.  Financially it failed owing to the non-attendance of teachers for whom it was held. 

[Annotation:  Main Entry: chau·tau·qua
Pronunciation: sh&-'to-kw&
Function: noun
Usage: often capitalized
Etymology: Chautauqua Lake
Date: 1873
: an institution that flourished in the late 19th and early 20th centuries providing popular education combined with entertainment in the form of lectures, concerts, and plays often presented outdoors or in a tent]

The State Textbook Commissioners, despite protests adopted a set of books.  They said no others could be used except in counties where contracts were in force.  Mr. Maunder asked the board to use its influence to protect school book dealers in contracts with publishers. The only authorized dealers in Wyandotte County were John C. Horton and Company, 604 Minnesota.

original Bryant SchoolBy 1897, the directors of District 7 were in charge of the Stewart School at Ninth and Quindaro.  [Annotation:  District 7 included Cobb, Stewart, Bryant (picture at left), Eugene Ware, Waterworks.]   The board ordered tenants to move, but consulted with the directors as to renting the building for school purposes.  Members of the board examined a frame building across from the offices in the Gray building.  The frame house, near Seventh and Ann, would do for high school classes.

Various persons appeared before the board.  Dr. Rangles presented a petition for paving Ann Avenue between Seventh and Eighth with concrete and brick.  The principal at Barnett complained of the unfit water in the cistern there.  The fire department used city water to fill it, but would have to get spring water for the second filling. The board paid George E. Rose $67.50 for extra work during enrollment, but informed him it was not to happen again without permission.

The board allowed W. H. Biscomb, Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds, an extra $10 per month to buy a horse and wagon to use for his school work.  Substitutes were paid $20 a month to help in the primary departments of Long, Central and Armstrong provided they attended a class in school management once a week.  The first assistance in each building was named assistant principal.  Principals were authorized to sign the names of all teachers when getting warrants.

D. S. Cook, editor of the Davenport, Iowa newspaper, visited friends here in December, 1897.  He had taught in the city schools thirty years before.  In December, a land company in the northwest part of the city offered a tract of 200 front feet if the board would erect on it a $10,000 school.  The board purchased four dozen pails and twelve dozen retinned dippers for the huge enrollment of 1897-1898. 

Next Section   1898

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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