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School Districts; Voters. In the organization of this school system, which extends to all parts of the State, each town is divided into school districts. In each school district an annual meeting is held on the first Tuesday of August in each year, at which the following persons have the right to vote:
Any citizen of the United States of full age, who has resided in the district for thirty days, and who either
(a) owns or hires or has contracted to purchase lands subject to taxation in such district; or
(b) is the parent of a child who has attended school in such district at least 8 weeks prior to such meeting; or
(c) has residing with him a child, not his own, who has so attended school in such district; or
(d) has personal property of the value of fifty dollars, for
which he is assessed on the last assessment roll of the town.
And "no person shall be deemed to be ineligible to vote at any such school meeting, by reason of sex,
Powers of School Meetings. At such school meetings the voters have power to
(a) elect one or three trustees, a district clerk, a collector, and if they desire, a treasurer;
(b) designate the location of a schoolhouse;
(c) vote a tax upon property of the district to build, repair, purchase or lease a building for a schoolhouse, for the purchase of books and maps, for the support of a district library, and for the payment of teachers' wages; and
(d) take such other action as is necessary to protect the property of the district.
Terms of District Officers. - All district officers must be qualified voters of the district and able to read and write. Their terms are for one year, except that in districts having three trustees, each is elected for three years, one going out of office each year.
Duties of Trustees. The chief duties of trustees are to
care for the property of the district; to give notice of district meetings to the voters; to make out a tax list for every tax voted at a district meeting and give it to the collector for collection; to engage qualified teachers; to establish rules for the conduct of the school and prescribe the course of study; to pay the wages of the teacher by giving orders upon the supervisor of the town for public moneys in his hands apportioned to the district, and upon the collector for moneys collected in the district by tax; to make an annual report to the school commissioner showing, among other things,
(a) the whole number of days of school during the year,
(b) the amount of expenditure and purpose,
(c) the number of children attending school,
(d) the number of children residing in the district;
and to render at the annual meeting an account of his office for the past year.
Duties of other District Officers. It is the duty of the district clerk to attend all district meetings and keep a record of the proceedings, to preserve the books and records of the districts and deliver them to his successor. It is the duty of the collector, whenever he receives a tax list from the trustee, to notify the taxpayers of the fact, to collect the tax and pay the moneys out upon the order of the trustee, and to render a report at the annual meeting of his collections, payments and the moneys in his hands, which he must deliver to his successor.
Union Schools. For the purpose of increasing school facilities, a district, or two or more districts together, may organize a union school, in which case the former officers of the district cease, and the voters elect a board of education consisting of not less than three nor more
than nine members, which may adopt rules for the conduct of the school, prescribe the course of study and the textbooks to be used, purchase sites and erect such schoolhouses as may be directed by the voters, take charge of the property of the district, employ teachers, and, in districts having a population of five thousand or more, employ a superintendent of schools, to whom there is paid by the State toward his salary the sum of eight hundred dollars annually.
Control of Union Schools.-If the boundaries of the union district are the same as those of an incorporated village, the officers are elected at the regular village election. If not, the annual meeting occurs on the first Tuesday of August. City Schools. In cities the schools are under the control of boards of education, the members of which are usually elective, and which in the conduct of the schools and employment of a superintendent possess powers and duties similar to those of boards of education in unior school districts. They are required to make an annual report to the Commissioner of Education.
School Commissioners. The school districts within a county, exclusive of those in cities, are grouped by the board of supervisors into school commissioner districts, for each of which there is elected at a general election by the legal voters of such district a school commissioner for the term of three years. Such commissioner receives an annual salary of not less than one thousand dollars. It is his duty to ascertain the boundaries of school districts and change them as necessity requires; to visit and inspect the schools within his district; to inquire into their management, instruction, discipline and textbooks; to direct necessary repairs to school buildings; to
examine into the qualifications of teachers under direction of the Commissioner of Education; to annul certificates; to meet with the other commissioners of his county, if any, for the distribution of public moneys among the school and union districts of the county; to conduct under the direction of the Commissioner of Education examinations for state scholarships in Cornell University; to provide for the conduct within his district of a teachers' institute at least once in every year; and to make an annual report to the Commissioner of Education of all educational matters within his district.
Department of Education. In 1904 the office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction was abolished, and there was created the Department of Education with all the powers formerly possessed by the University of the State of New York and the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The head of this Department is the Commissioner of Education, who exercises these powers subject to certain directions of the Board of Regents. The first Commissioner of Education was chosen by joint ballot of the legislature for a term of six years, but it is provided by law that his successor in office shall be selected by the Board of Regents and shall serve during the pleasure of the Board.
The Commissioner of Education receives a salary of $7,500 a year together with $1,500 for expenses. He has power to appoint, subject to the confirmation of the Board of Regents, three Assistant Commissioners with an annual salary of $5,000 each, who have charge, respectively, of (a) colleges, technical schools and other higher institutions of learning, (b) high schools and academies, and (c) elementary and training schools. He also appoints,
in like manner, the State Librarian and Director of Science Work and the State Museum.
The Commissioner of Education has general control of the public schools, including high schools; directs the course of instruction; prepares examinations for teachers; apportions and distributes the public moneys for the support of schools; decides appeals involving school controversies; has general control of teachers' institutes ; establishes and maintains training schools; supervises institutions for the instruction of the deaf, dumb and blind; appoints pupils to normal schools; directs normal and Indian schools, and enforces the compulsory education law. He receives and compiles the school reports of the State and makes an annual report of the condition of the schools to the legislature.
Department Divisions. The administrative and clerical work of the Department of Education is conducted by the following seven divisions subject to the direction of the Commissioner of Education and his three Assistant Commissioners: (a) Accounts; (b) Compulsory Attendance; (c) Examinations; (d) Inspections; (e) Law; (ƒ) Records; (g) Statistics.
The heads of these divisions, called Chiefs, are appointed by the Commissioner of Education, subject to the confirmation of the Board of Regents.
Training of Teachers. As a natural feature of the development of the schools, there have been provided increased facilities for the training of teachers. Among the agencies employed for this purpose are the following: (a) Normal schools, which give extensive courses in the history, theory and methods of teaching.