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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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

Return to Previous Section 1906


Kansas City, Kansas became a modern city when an amusement park was built between Fourteenth and Fifteenth on Armstrong during the summer of 1907.  At its opening, the 18th Infantry Band was engaged for two weeks.  Carnival Park was a great achievement for the city. Statues on pedestals stood in the middle of flower beds and an ornate bridge spanned a lagoon.  At 11:30 p.m., a bell rang for closing.  After five years of prosperity, the park closed, and in 1915, the site was purchased by the Board of Education for an athletic field.

The two Kansas City, in 1907, were united by a viaduct almost two miles long, which spanned the railroad tracks, the river, and the state line.  Known as the Intercity Viaduct, it has been in constant use since that time.

Building and improvements took most of the board's time in 1907.   A bond issue for $200,000 passed in the February 19th election.  Successful bidder was the Commercial National Bank, which offered $100,000 in April and $100,000 in September.  The bank was made depository for the building funds and for any other funds as the board saw fit.  In the preceding session, the legislature had changed the laws concerning levies of cities of the first class.  Now ample funds were available.

Additions were planned for the high school, John Fiske, Eugene Field, Hawthorne, and Armourdale.  Just a waste of money, the critics argued, to put additions on those "old barrels." In Armourdale, Lot w, Block 40 was added to the Armourdale School site.  The property next to John Fiske was bought from a Mr. Williams on April 15.  New buildings for Dunbar and the Fifth Ward were needed.  Fred Meyn received the contract for the high school addition.  When some question arose as to the legality of Meyn's bond from a trust company, E. S. McAnany, attorney for the Board, said Meyn would get another.

The contract for the four-room Eugene Field addition went to J. W. Taylor, John Fiske's eight-room and Hawthorne's four to F. A. Thompson, and the four at Armourdale to S. J. Davidson.  The board met at Tenth and Gilmore on May 13 to select the site for the Fifth Ward School and hoped to et the two lots north of Longfellow for $500.  The old building at Armourdale would be razed by Superintendent of Buildings Biscomb, who would see that the brick was cleaned.  Bidders did not want to include the old material.  L. G. Ferguson was awarded the contract for the new Dunbar School on June 3.  He was slow in starting, and the board warned him on July 22, to proceed with the work or lose the job.  Again on August 5 he was told to proceed with Dunbar.  Otherwise, the board said, it would cancel the contract, do the work, and deduct the cost.  Another warning of a cancelled contract was given the contractor on October 7, if no substantial progress was made by October 18.  Dunbar children were attending school in a building rented from a brewery.

Two lots fronting Gilmore in the Fifth Ward were chosen for the new school.  Plans and specifications were examined on July 29, and A. J. Hibbs given the contract on August 12 for a four-room brick school.  The board, in the summer of 1907, planned a two-room addition to Armstrong, but postponed indefinitely on July 8 the calling for bids.  They reconsidered the addition on July 22, when the idea of a colored school at Armstrong was laid on the table.  It was decided to lease a brick building on Colorado Avenue from a Mr. Flanagan.  On September 2, mention is made of A. J. Hibbe getting the contract for the Armstrong addition.

Lots east of Irving were purchased in the summer of 1907.  While building was going on, rooms had to be rented for Armourdale School.  Contracts were let in March to heat and ventilate the high school.  Fuel was changed to oil.  The first mention of the Fifth Ward School as "Whittier" occurred in November, when the board ordered it piped for gas.  Half the school funds in the Wyandotte State Bank were transferred on November 4 to the Commercial National Bank.

Fred Meyn received the contract for the high school addition in April, 1907.  Mr. Winslow, high school principal, asked for a change in commencement plans, and the board appropriated funds for a prominent speaker.  The principal wanted pictures for the school's annual.  High school teachers met in Lawrence on April 17, when a holiday was granted.  A Home Telephone was installed in the summer.

The use of the library grew.  In 1907 a patron offered a collection of library books.  More shelf room was needed and two hundred books were sent for rebinding.  A question arose as to the legality of the board's control of the library, and the counselor for the board was requested to render an opinion on it.  The librarians invited the State Library Association to meet here in 1908.

Because of a rule against admission charges for lecture room events, the board refused the use of the room to one organization that planned an entertainment in it.  Additional books, at a cost not to exceed one hundred dollars a month, were ordered bought.  The board granted Mr. Buchanan permission to take a picture of the statue he had given.  Mrs. Sara, Greenman, librarian, had four assistants.

The government's move to sell Huron Place bought opposition.  Lydia B. Conley, descendant of Wyandots buried in the cemetery there, brought suit in Federal Court to restrain the commissioners appointed by the Interior Department to sell the land.  Judge Pollock appointed Charles Blook Smith of Topeka, special master, to hear the case.  He recommended later that it be dismissed.

In August, 1907, the three Conley sisters erected a board shelter and stood guard over the graves of their father and mother to prevent removal.  The government refused a bid of $50,000 from the city.  The city offered to place the bodies of the Indians in a center plot one hundred feet square, and to erect a monument to the Wyandots.

In March, 1907, the board purchased twelve microscopes and seventy-five song books for Sumner.  Sanitary plumbing at Eugene Field, Central, and Hawthorne was installed during the summer, and new Dunbar connected to Longfellow pipes.  The Superinendent of Buildings took charge of janitors, although the principal was held responsible for them.  Mr. Friedman was instructed to select an interpreter for the Fifth Ward, where there was a large foreign population.  A manual training center was established at Eugene Field.

A committee of the board formulated a change of rules concerning the number and size of committees.  Standing committees would have two members each.  Committees:  Purchasing (new); Janitors (new); Library; Finance and Rules; Teachers and Salaries; Equipment.

Mr. E. H. Heisler, former teacher, asked for the use of the high school auditorium on October 22.  He was giving an entertainment to raise funds to have an old navel cannon moved to the city.  The cannon belonged to the Maine, battleship sunk in Havana Harbor.  It stands today on the east side of the library.  A new law enacted by the legislature in 1907 required that school officers must provide a flag for every school building.  The publishers of the Kansas Farmer, Topeka, offered to furnish the flags free of charge.  A state law also required fumigation of schools, Dr. Fritz reminded the board.

High school teachers in June of 1907 planned a Lyceum course, which was heartily endorsed by the board.  In order to retain certain teachers, the board offered $125 a month to the following:  I. B. Morgan, Miss Hamilton, Mr. Bogle, Corey, C. A. Case, Lucy T. Dougherty, Lela Douthart, Layman.

Some received extra money for grading teachers'  examination papers.  Any teacher absent for any cause for more than three days in any one month would forfeit her salary afterward.

A major change in supervision was recommended by the Committee on Teachers and Salaries.  School, except for the larger, were divided into six groups, under six supervising principals.  Each school would be in charge of a head teacher, who would have a class.  Supervisors were relieved of teaching duties.

The grouping and supervising principals:

  1. Armourdale, Greystone, Phillips - J. J. Maxwell
  2. Morse and John Fiske - S. F. Wright
  3. Riverview and Armstrong - J. L. Howard
  4. Everett, Cooper, Bruce - C. N. Walker
  5. Hawthorne, Abbott - E. H. Jackson
  6. Long, Eugene Field, Dunbar - H. W. McKean

The other school retained their principals as formerly.

In his president's report of 1907, Brent A. Spake emphasized the need to increase the physical efficiency of the schools.  Three manual training centers in grade schools were a start.  The girls should learn sewing.  He quoted great educators as saying, "The individual should not only have a thorough training in preparatory and academic studies, but be given a course in conjunction that will be useful to them."  At no time in the city's history, he said, had there been such a demand on members.

The Children's Home teacher was withdrawn for 1907-08.  The superintendent told members in August that recent textbook adoptions by the state board would mean writing a new course of study.  Detached copy and copy pads were chosen for drawing classes.  The Northeast Teachers Association met in April and elected M. E. Pearson president.

In a revision of bylaws during the year 1907-08, the board divided the elementary classes into primary, intermediate, and grammar grades with A and B classes.  Two years training was required of teachers.  The high school offered three courses - industrial, commercial, and college preparatory.  All graduating classes were required to give graduation exhibitions, time and place to be fixed by the superintendent.

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

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