The Crisis


Consolidation of the One Room Schoolhouses

as reported in the Montgomery Transcript

“Shall We Centralize Our Schools     Worcester Township Citizens Discuss The Question Negatively

This problem confronts us and in some way we will solve it in the near future.
Someone has very aptly said that our school houses are a chain of fortresses scattered over the land. This is indeed very true. Our public school system is doing more to up build and defend the peace, prosperity and honor of the nation than all the fortresses and battleships we shall ever be able to build, or all the standing armies we shall ever be able to muster.

But how to proceed that our schools will be of the greatest efficiency is still a problem. What is the intent and purpose of closing our schoolhouses and taking our children to some central school?  It is claimed that better work can be done.  Let us remember that the finished product alone shows the efficiency of any institution.  The facts of the great expense and the almost unendurable idea of giving our children into the hands of careless drivers or chauffeurs whose only aim is to get done quickly so that it becomes more profitable to them, must be considered. The driver in a neighboring township is known to have crossed the railroad on a down grade with horses going at a full trot.  We would overlook all this if the interest of our children were better served thereby.

Why do we send our children to school? To get an education, the need of which is very apparent in our days. If book learning were all there was to education then I would be in favor of getting them all into one school and cram them full of it.
Education is bringing up, instruction, formation of manners.  It takes in all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temperament and form the manners and habits of youth and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable and an immense responsibility rests upon parents and guardians who neglect these duties.

Centralization is by no means a new thing.  It has been in practice in towns for years and what has been the result? Have the manners and habits to those children been better and their morals of a higher order than those living in the country and attending country schools? The verdict is in favor of the country boys and girls.
If a system of education that has been tested for generations cannot show better results why should it be patterned after at so great expense in many of our townships.

It is said that the nearer children are kept to parental care until they have passed the eighteenth year the better for them.  Then why send them miles away from home where they will be separated into different rooms, away from their brothers and sisters in whose presence they would feel a large measure of the restraint and discipline of the home?

To have no brothers or sisters is unfortunate.  Children do not seem to develop right under those conditions.  Then will not being away from brothers and sisters for so large a part of the time have about the same effect upon their lives?
The records show that a large part of the best and most useful men of our country were reared in the country and caught their first inspirations in some humble country school.

I am well aware that for various occupations the training our present country schools affords is not sufficient. Neither will it be if we put them all in one school.
If there were a great deficiency in the education of our children I would say let us try this new system, though we have shown that it is not new. Our schools have made progress with our present system.  We have good results. Then why make this change?”

Joseph N Cassell, Fairview Village, June 18, 1913         

26 Jun 1913 – Montgomery Transcript

“At the urgent request of many taxpayers of Worcester Township the School Board of the township has called a citizens meeting to be held in Farmers’ Hall, Center Point, on Wednesday evening, March 17th for the purpose of discussing the matter of centralizing the public schools and to decide whether or not to centralize at this time.

The matter of centralizing is a live topic for discussion in that progressive township and there is very considerable sentiment in favor of the plan.
The purpose of the meeting is to give the taxpayers an opportunity to frankly discuss the proposition and if possible, to come to some definite conclusion.”    11 Mar 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“Farmers’ Hall, Center Point, was crowded Wednesday evening by those who are interested in welfare of the public schools and who were attracted thither by the announcement that the matter of centralization the public schools was to be discussed and decided.

At eight o’clock the meeting was called to order and E R Dorsett, of Tioga County, was introduced. He is a director in a district where eleven schools have been thrown into one and some pupils are transported seven miles.  He spoke upon the economic side of the question.

County Superintendent Landis followed, speaking of the education side. The discussion then became general and every taxpayer was given an opportunity express his opinion. The discussion lasted until 10.30 o’clock, when a raising vote was taken and resulted in 106 for centralization and 45 against. There were least fifty ladies in the audience, which demonstrates the interest that is taken in the proposition.”    18 Mar 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“A meeting will be held in the new hall at Fairview Inn next Monday evening, March 29th, relative to school facilities at Fairview Village and vicinity.  Citizens of the township who are interested in the welfare of the children as well as of the neighborhood will do well to attend.”    25 Mar 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“Dissatisfaction over the decision of citizens of Worcester Township in favoring the centralization of the public school led to hold a meeting at Fairview Inn, Monday evening to consider the matter to better school facilities, and a strong sentiment developed favoring the forming of an independent school district.
A committee of five persons consisting of H S Plummer, David Trucksess, Frank Shaffer, Joseph N Cassel and Isaac Cassel, Jr was named to investigate a location for the purpose of a central school building, the probable cost of the building and cost of transportation.
Another meeting will be held, after the committee has completed the canvass, and upon a date yet to be announced.”     1 Apr 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“In last week’s Transcript we noticed an item stating that measures are being taken to form an independent school district whose center shall be near Fairview.  We much regret that such measures were found necessary.  It seems that there is somewhere a lack of co-operation.  We know that long since, Worcester has been agitated about bringing all its school children to one building.
We also happen to know that when the High School Building was erected certain citizens had plans made so that an extension could be added for the purpose of centralization.

Worcester will never be satisfied fully with all its children at Center Point.
The move to have a school at Fairview is excellent; but it should be at a Worcester school.  There is absolutely no good reason for the School Board to neglect the demands of the citizens of Fairview for a school.  If we interpret the State law correctly, all pupils residing not more than one and one-half miles distant from their school, find their own transportation.

If two districts each 3 miles in diameter are formed in Worcester, one formed in Worcester, one whose center is at or near Fairview and another such district whose center is at or near Center Point, only pupils outside of the boundaries of these two districts would have to be transported by the township.  How many would there be?

On the other hand, with only one district, Viz: at Center Point, all pupils outside of that district including all of Fairview District would have to be transported at the expense of the taxpayers. We all know that transportation is undesirable to the citizens of Worcester; therefore we fail to see the reasonableness of centralization at Center Point.  In using the term centralization we wish to convey the idea of method, rather than of geographical location.

Worcester wants to consolidate to get better results.  We know that with two districts our children as a whole will receive a better education with less loss of time in transportation than any other method could possibly afford. Of course the majority of persons living within the Center Point district don’t give a rap if Fairview children have to be transported.  Nevertheless, since the people of Fairview and vicinity have got to pay their share of the taxes in the township they should be given due consideration in the management and locating of the schools of Worcester Township.  With the establishment of a two district system in Worcester, the inconvenience and the danger to the health of our children incurred by the use of a bus or other conveyance will be eliminated; for the few who will have to be conveyed by their parents will not be subject to parental neglect.

We do not think that Worcester should be guided by the suggestions of any individual of any county such as Tioga, etc., since he is not conversant with the geographical conditions of Worcester Township.  One has got to make a study of existing conditions before he can offer suggestions of improved methods to any school board.

Gentleman of the School Board: We beg you to give the above matter your earnest consideration. Why should Worcester Township be divided? Gentlemen, give the people of Fairview a chance. They help to pay the roads you travel on; they help pay the books and pencils your children use: twice a year they come to your central location to poll their votes; they attended your Farmers’ institute and Grange; their children attended the High School, why not give them a voice in this matter?
We regret that at the special meeting called for the purpose of discussing the condition of the schools, matters were so slated as to prevent a fair expression of opinion.  “This is a government for the people, of the people, and by the people” and not for a few individuals.  Let us do the greatest good to the greatest number.
Therefore, we would suggest that the School Board call a special meeting of the Citizens of Worcester Township and give the Fairview citizens an equal voice from the platform with Center Point citizens.  And why not let the brotherly spirit prevail in Worcester Township as has been the case heretofore.

Gentlemen, we beg to face this issue squarely.  If the High School building was placed at Center Point by the will of a few, we hope that the same policy will not guide you in this more important matter, Viz: the conveying of small children to Center Point when there is a better way.”
Albert B Reichenbach          8 Apr 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“The committees representing Fairview school district met the School Board on Wednesday evening with a petition demanding a consolidated school in the vicinity of Fairview.  The petition was signed by 93 taxpayers who were practically unanimous in their sentiments.

The committees were received with apparent indifference by the School Board. After two hours of weighty discussion the Board arranged for a meeting to consider the matter and give its answer to the committees inside of 20 days.
The School Board harped on the opinion that the big taxpayers would have to be given first consideration, forgetting the fact that Thomas Jefferson, when the Declaration of Independence was formed, said, “Equal rights to all and special privileges to none.”

The committees were surprised when the School Director representing Fairview District directly opposed the opinions of the people he is representing.”

David L Trucksess          15 Apr 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“In addition to the splendid letter from Mr Reichenbach in last week’s “Transcript” I desire to call attention to a few facts relative to centralizing or consolidating the schools of Worcester Township.

It has been proven that the building and maintain of a school in the Fairview end of the township will result in saving of several hundred dollars to the taxpayers each year.

That every pupil residing South of Stump Hall is entitled to transportation.  This can only be accomplished satisfactory with two trucks when the roads are good and when the road are otherwise the proper means of conveyance has not yet been invented.  A snowstorm during the day would mean that we would find our children hung up in a truck in a snow drift.

The Township has built and maintains more good roads in the vicinity of Center Point than elsewhere in the township. Why should there be hesitancy when a project is proposed that is only fair to everybody.”

Joseph N Cassel          15 Apr 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“A regular meeting of the School board was held on Tuesday evening. Quite a number of taxpayers attended the meeting, to discuss with the board the matter of centralizing the schools. After a full and free expression of opinion the Board decided to continue the school at Fairview Village for the pupils of the smaller grades in that section and to transport all other pupils to a central school to be established at Center Point.”     15 Apr 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“By all accounts the school question was settled the other evening, and we will have a new school building at Fairview Village.”     22 Apr 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“The Board of School Directors of Worcester Township has decided to consolidate its schools.  his decision was reached and announced after considerable discussion and a careful canvas of the subject from all its phases, and is the direct result of overwhelming sentiment in favor of consolidation existing in the township. A month or more ago a meeting of the taxpayers was called for the purpose of discussing centralization. Farmers’ Hall, at Center Point, where the meeting was held, was filled with men and women all eager for information upon the subject. There was a full, frank and free discussion, the question being considered from all angles, and before adjournment a vote was taken, which resulted in 106 votes in favor and 45 in opposition.  Upon learning the sentiment the Board began planning to carry out the wishes of the taxpayers.  Opposition developed in the Fairview end of the township, and committees were named to ascertain the wishes of the taxpayers in that section, and to appear before the board to protest against the innovation.

“The Committee met the Board and after going over the matter and learning the plans of the Board, opposition disappeared. The plans of the Board included the addition of two rooms to the handsome new school building at Center Point, and an addition of one room to the school building at Fairview Village, making this a two room school.  All the pupils from all the schools in the township will be brought to Center Point, except those of Water Street and Fairview.  From there only the pupils above the Grammar grades will go to Center Point.

The Board after careful calculation is convinced that it can get along at 6 ½ mills tax. The innovation in Worcester will be carefully watched by neighboring school districts.”         29 Apr 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“The plasters have finished work on the new school house at Fairview Village. Most of the carpenter work is finished. The big sliding doors are still to be put in and the painting is to be done. The glazing was finished this week.  Schools will open at the earliest possible day.”     23 Sep 1915 – Montgomery Transcript

“The School Board of Worcester Township on Monday afternoon sold six school houses and lots which were abandoned by the consolidation of schools at Center Point and Fairview Village. The public sale was held in the Farmers’ Hall, at Center Point, and was attended by about two hundred persons, mostly citizens of this township.
Stump Hall schoolhouse and lot of one half an acre was started at $200, and was bid to $620 and struck off to Isaiah S Anders.

Metz’s schoolhouse and three-fourths of an acre was started at $300, bid to $580 and sold to H M Geyer.

Anders’ schoolhouse and one half acre was started at $200, and was bid to $540 and sold to James Shiery.

Bethel schoolhouse and lot was sold to Bethel M E church for $400.

Cassels’ schoolhouse and half acre of ground was started at $100 bid to $275 and withdrawn.  Later it was announced that $400 would be accepted and Isaac Beyer became the purchaser at that figure.

Water Street schoolhouse and 128 perches of ground land was started at $100 and sold for $220 to William K Denner.

Three school bells were sold for 70 cents, $1.25, and $1.50 respectively. A stove was sold for $1.40, curtains for 50 cents, two black boards for ten cents and other articles for 15 cents.  The sale amounted to $2.765.60.”  2 Mar 1916 – Montgomery Transcript