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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 1922

1923

Seven years before, Whittier children had moved from the junior high building where one wing was to have housed them. Junior high students soon occupied the whole school, and Whittier children used the portables. The move to the building at Tenth and Gilmore was announces on April 26. Books would be taken home on Friday and returned to the new school on Monday. On the Saturday in between the PTA would give a housewarming.

The new Whittier had built-in bulletin boards, hot water, basins, and a bathtub. There were a plug for a movie, a "haven of rest for teachers," and adjustable seats. All these things marked a new era in school construction in Kansas. About 500 people attended the Saturday program at which Mayor Burton and Mr. Pearson talked. In May the court ruled that the board did not have to pay the Whittier workman who had brought suit for their wages.

Plans were made in January to have the new Oakland School at 22nd and Ridge ready by September. The patrons east of 18th Street protested about the distance and said they preferred 21 st and Homer for a site. The two warring factions were asked to consider a third site between 20th and 22nd Streets and Bunker and Pacific. When patrons were unable to agree on this site, the board announced it would use its own judgment. Mr. Beggs suggested hiring a school expert. Mr. Pearson gave members twelve points for guidance in the selection. A Teachers College man had drawn them up.

Glad to be rid of the problem, the board instructed the superintendent to make a fifth trip to look at sites, with no faction along to bother. All agreed that he was an "expert" himself. A site on Eighteen Street and Bunker was chosen in September and the name changed from Oakland to Louisa M. Alcott. E Dreier and Son were awarded the contract.

After objections, quarrels, and a law suit, the Melville-Greystone school site was decided upon at 810 Shawnee Road near the old Melville School. A two-room building and two portables made up the latter. The new school was to be named for Major J. K. Hudson, prominent in early Kansas history and once editor of the Topeka Capital. The school would occupy a part of the farm where the major once lived. On 1922 Major Hudson had been dead for fifteen years, but his wife was still living.

The night school flourished, although the initial enthusiasm tapered off, at least on the part of the public. Many teachers helped with a pageant, "The Spirit of America," presented by the Americanization classes March 14. I. B. Morgan was elected in May to the board of the National Vocational Guidance Association. The secretary wondered about Mr. Morgan's address. "I never heard of Kansas City, Kansas," he wrote.

The government sent to Mr. Morgan the names of people taking out first papers. Boy Scouts delivered a letter of invitation and a book of information to the homes. Prospective citizens were advised to enroll in night classes.

Interest in the library flagged a little. Circulation continued high, although not much was spent on new books. Chris Copp furnished the museum a collection of stuffed birds and animals, for which the board paid $1500. The Armourdale branch moved from Ingalls Schools to the Community House on Osage Avenue.

Mr. Rice, high school principal, wondered why he was not invited to a meeting of mothers of members of secret societies. They met to plan regulations for dances and parties, and Mr. Rice remarked there were several things he could tell parents. One thing was that such groups had long been outlawed in Kansas. Officers of the societies met with the mothers and offered to cooperate by keeping earlier hours and coming home without stopping to eat on the way. In March many parents expressed themselves as opposed to sororities and fraternities.

Principal Rice and the superintendent differed in their views on domestic science instruction. Mr. Rice, knowing the 97% of the girls were married within eight years after graduation, wanted facilities to teach every girl. Mr. Pearson's opinion was that the home should teach household arts and let the school instruct in other subjects. The school lacked room for four classes and added space was badly needed.

After twenty years of service, M. E. Pearson was honored at the third annual teachers' banquet at the Chamber of Commerce on January 28. C. L. Brokaw, president of the Chamber; D. E. D. Williams, board member; and A. S. Olin, former superintendent were speakers. Other guests were Mrs. John McNarrey, Lapier Williams, Miss Olive Thompson, Mayor Burton and Thomas W. Butcher.

The board decided in April, 1922, that the old Eugene Ware School on North 12, abandoned for five years, should be sold. The new building at 36th and Washington to replace old Kerr School was named Roosevelt. The board talked of a two-room school at 25th and State and of remodeling a house for a classroom. Argentine needed a new junior high school. At 14th and Tauromee the new brick school was named McKinley. Six kindergarten buildings were under construction. The Westheight Manor school was called Mark Twain, and the colored building at Greystone named Booker T. Washington.

The Kansas City Connecting Railway owed $21,000 in back taxes and the commissioners and E. A, Enright promised to collect. Mayor Burton urged that taxes go back to pre-war levels, but the board was finding it difficult to stay within its budget. The mortgage on the athletic field was due, and Chelsea plans were cut to stay within the allotted amount. Other cuts were made to reduce the tax levy nineteen cents. James Beggs, president, and Lee Judy, vice-president, disagreed as to the amount to place in the sinking fund.

In August the board learned that the county had interest on back taxes over a twenty-year period. To get a percentage due the schools, it was decided to settle the matter in court. Bonds for over $160,000 were reprinted on better paper. A sinking fund to avoid further bond issues was proposed. Roosa finally paid, in November, a $3115.35 judgment to the board, and $26,000 in back taxes was received. The board then sued for interest, as interest on back taxes no longer was considered as belonging to the county. The money was paid in December,

Four nurses were elected in April, but in October it was announced that they could not be paid. E. B. Sheley, a taxpayer had Enright file a restraining order. President Beggs asked Enright to do it, saying that he was tired of being questioned why the nurses were hired. He personally wanted then and the board had PTA backing for employing them. The nurses decided to work during the time before the matter was settled. On October 7, Judge W. H. McCamish ruled in favor of the board.

Matters concerning teachers came to the board's attention. Miss Anna Kenner, high school teacher, received praise from Birger Sandzen. He called her a "scholar of art," and she was gaining fame as "dean of art" in Kansas City. Teachers who were ill were calling on the Benefit Association, sanctioned by the board, which paid benefits beyond those granted by the board. Mr. Pearson deplored "drab" teachers, no matter how much they might know. The scarcity of teachers was past. Applications poured in, but only one in thirty-six was hired.

At the May, 1922 meeting, Mr. Beggs suggested that as long as office holders had to live in the city, why not teachers. Attorney Emerson wondered if it would be legal to insert such a clause in the contract. Forty-three teachers when were residing in Missouri. On May 20, C. W. Shelley, representing the Teachers' Council, protested the ruling. The board answered that the rule would go into the contract, but that for a good reason the teachers might be excused. In August, Beggs announced that the clause was mainly for those coming from out of town. If parents lived in Missouri, the teacher could remain there also.

Mr. Pearson announced in May that there was no compulsory summer work for teachers, no "hurdle jumping" to get a high degree for a salary increase. The Board of Education, Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce planned to hire Coach C. W. Corsault to direct playground activities at the athletic field during the summer. Former principal Harvey J. Emerson wanted the nomination for city attorney. Leta M. Brown, teacher in the city for five years, left to go as a missionary to India. While summer school was not compulsory, every teacher was expected to enroll in a professional course on Saturday mornings, after school started. Mr. Pearson worked on the pension bill during the fall of 1922. Only Topeka teachers had pensions at that time.

Horace Mann established an "opportunity" room, as the first "mental clinics" the schools hoped to have. The superintendent said the teachers and parents must know when a child could not learn and face the fact. When Mr. Pearson returned in March from a convention, he told how the platoon system had been recommended as a relief for crowded schools. "It will come," he said, "but we are still poor folks here and cannot afford it." Boys' Week was celebrated with a parade of 5,000 boys on May 1, with eight bands in the procession.

The schools were honored in April by a visit from the assistant superintendent and district supervisor of the Kansas City, Missouri schools. The superintendent sent them to procure information about some good features here that they had heard about. After six years of teaching deaf children at Prescott School, Miss Keturah Stevens left to be married. Teachers of the deaf were had to find, but Ruth Zeratsky of Wisconsin was elected on September 26, 1922. Fourteen church representatives asked again for religious education classes. The board restored serving of milk in schools for underweight children.

Rosedale had voted to annex, but by April 3, 1922, the city clerk had not certified the election, saying the records were lost. The governor had to wait for a court ruling before he could issue the proclamation. Then on April 7, Governor H. J. Allen proclaimed the uniting of the cities. A judge refused to grant an injunction against the annexation, and Rosedale became officially a part of the city on April 25. It became the Eighth Ward.

Frank Rushton said about $20,000 would remain in the Rosedale school treasury after expenses were cleared. A. P. Vaughan became supervisor. About 20,000 children, 2113 of them in junior and senior and senior high school came into the system. Schools were:

Columbia, Whitmore, Maccochaque, Noble Prentis, Snow, Attucks (colored), and High School, operating under the Barnes County High School law.

Frank Rushton, Rosedale board president, worked with the Kansas City board and in June was to take the place of C. W. Green, who retired. Almost $18,000 was turned over in May by Oscar L. Bauer, treasurer. Rosedale teachers would have contracts voided if the annexation was ruled illegal. The Supreme Court was to decide about City Treasure J. M. Kilmer's refusal to part with Rosedale funds. On July 9, the court ruled against him.

On August 15, Dr. O. M. Longnecker of the Rosedale board took William Blodgett's place. He was a former superintendent of Miami County. It is not clear from the records if Mr. Rushton took a place on the board at that time. Miss Sybil Rose organized a cafeteria in the Rosedale High School, and girls in the domestic science classes prepared the food.

The Chelsea contract went to the Fogel Construction Company. In June, a month later, the bricklayers and masons were called off the job by their unions because Whittier workmen had not been paid. J. O. Emerson, attorney, said nothing could be done, as paying the men would be against the law. A Missouri woman, Sarah E. Huff, notified the board that she was the owner of the two lots on the northwest corner of the Hawthorne grounds. Mr. Emerson agreed that she had owned the land for twelve years. Her price was named at $50 a foot for fifty feet. As the lots had been for sale at $20 a foot previously, they were to be appraised and a settlement made.

A new one-room building at 22nd and Lawrence, to be called Edison, was opened on September 26, 1922. Mae Newton taught first and second graders there from Franklin and Noble Prentis. The board decided on three rooms for Mark Twain and rented the Church of God building for crowded Stowe. A 6 ½ acre site between Cleveland and Haskell on Eighteenth was considered for a junior high school, although it was expensive.

Civic and PTA organizations in Armourdale and Argentine wanted a separate school for Mexican children and said they would appeal to the Mexican counselor for help keeping the children apart. The board owned a site formerly occupied by a school in Argentine. Mexican children at Emerson could attend there when a school was built. Plans were made for a three or four-room, one-story brick building on South 26th Street at the north end of the "horseshoe" viaduct. One hundred fifty Mexicans would occupy it February, 1923, provided the Santa Fe planned to continue employment of the parents.

Late in December the site of the Baptist Seminary at Fourth and Troup was acquired for a new colored junior high school. This was one of the most sightly places in the city and the location of the Matthew Walker and, later, the Fowler homes. Ground at Ninth and State across from the high school was purchased for laboratories and a gymnasium.

The movement to establish more kindergartens was well under way in the spring of 1922. Frame buildings with fireplaces and modern conveniences were designed by Rose and Peterson. With twenty-five kindergartens, the city would have over half the desired number, unless prices for new ones were prohibitive. Otherwise Lowell, Central, Horace Mann, Irving, John Fiske, and Bryant would have to do without. Mr. Pearson remarked that the kindergarten year, formerly considered a "fragile theory," now was important. He hoped that soon every child would have kindergarten training before going into first grade.

Not everyone felt as the superintendent did about kindergartens. The London Heights Improvement Association sought an injunction against the board concerning the operation of kindergartens. The room was needed for older children, the petition stated. It was explained that as the people had voted the money for that purpose, the board could spend it only on kindergartens even if other groups were on half-day sessions. Miss Emily Hall supervised physical education and kindergarten work.

Coal was in short supply in late summer. The board had enough to do until October, as some buildings used oil and in others furnaces could be converted. It was the first time in fifteen years that school began without the winter's supply of coal. As a coal strike had gone on since April 1, there were no contracts or orders. The schools would get preference when small lots were available, but ten carloads were required.

William Boone, G. A. Hodge, and A.J. Neely were leaders in the Emancipation Day celebration on September 22. A colored girl was chosen queen of a large parade. After the parade, the churches held dinners. At a Colored Welfare League banquet, resolutions were passed asking for relief for crowded colored schools, especially Stowe and Douglass. Armstrong and Everett, losing their white students because of the westward population trend, were suggested as schools for the colored.

Thrift was introduced as a school topic in September and savings placed in envelopes were deposited in banks. American Education Week observed its second birthday the first week of December. P. P. Claxton, United States Commissioner of Education, instituted the observances with the assistance of the American Legion and the National Education Association.

Rosedale

When the rolling mills were established in what was later the city of Rosedale, workers built their homes around them. The town, plotted in 1872, took its name from the profusion of roses blooming on the hills on either side. The first school in District Number 15 ( Rosedale ) was a one-room frame at what is now 37th Avenue and Early. It was known as the Rosedale or Frame School. In 1878 a room was added.

The growing city attracted more families and a two-story white frame was erected in 1881. This four-room building probably stood on the present Whitmore site. The historian Andreas in 1883 recorded that Rosedale had an "elegant school building conveniently located on Kansas City Avenue."  Four teachers in the white building, he said, and one in the colored department taught 300 children. Attucks at that time was a one-room frame.

Dr. Simeon B. Bell and Albert Marty donated a tract at Fifth and Seminary for a school to care for children in the north part of the city. They had previously attended classes in the old Ely or Melville School, District Number 33, where Major Hudson stands today. The new school was a four-room brick facing Seminary Street. It was the only building in the 500 block and the only brick building in the city when it was occupied in 1886. For six years it was known as the Brick School. Six grades occupied three rooms.

Children voted in 1892 on school names. The Columbian Exposition in Chicago was in the news. "Brick" school pupils voted Columbian as their choice. At the frame building a much loved white-haired teacher was honored by the children's selection of "Whitmore" for their school.

By 1895 Whitmore was crowded. Until a new school was erected in 1898, a "John Kemp" room at Mill and Southwest Boulevard was rented. After two public meetings, Rosedale citizens voted $14,000 for a new brick building to replace Whitmore and a four-room addition for Columbian.

When the four-room frame Whitmore was first built, high school classes were held there. In 1897-1898 a three year course was established in the new brick building. At the close of the first semester in 1903 the school was reorganized and became an accredited four-year high school.

Albert Marty in 1904 donated ground for a new high school on Mount Marty at 36thand Springfield. The school opened in September, 1906, housing grades seven to twelve. A gymnasium and annex were erected in 1912.

The colored school burned on April 17, 1903. As it was damaged beyond repair, colored patrons asked for a four-room brick school. A church served as a classroom until the new school was ready in 1904. Years later, before Rosedale became part of Kansas City, a one-year high school course was given at Attucks, as the new school was called.

Children in the vicinity of Texas and Minnie attended Maccochaque early in the century. Property owners in 1910 donated lots for a school, which the board erected on 1910-1911. A one-story brick, it had two classrooms until 1915, when a second story was added. Francis Huntington Snow, chancellor at the University, was supposed to have attended school in Rosedale, and the school was named for him.

A school later known as Noble Prentis first was housed in an old yellow store building at 21st and Steele Road, and was popularly called the "Yellow Hammer" school. When Mr. Roe gave a site on a tract of land west of the city, it was planned to call the building Roe School. The present name, Noble Prentis, was chosen to honor a noted Kansa historian. Occupied in 1911, it has remained on the Roe tract at 14thand Gibbs. Two teachers taught six grades, and older children went to Rosedale. Several rooms were added before the school was taken into the system.

Maccochaque School, first established in 1876 in District number 39, was close to the city and Rosedale children attended classes there. After several years of negotiating, the directors came to an agreement. In January, 1908, Maccochaque was annexed to the Rosedale schools.

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

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