Sunday, October 25, 2009

From 1959: Century Old City School District to Make 'Funeral Plans' Tuesday

This article appeared 50 years ago today, in the October 25th, 1959 edition of the Hartford Courant.
The century-old City School District will write "finis" to its existence at a special meeting Tuesday night at Middletown High School. The district and its School Board go out of existence Nov. 10 when the recently approved consolidation of tax and school becomes effective.

The School Board at the special meeting will discuss the mechanics of turning over the affairs of the district to the city. One of the major problems is the district budget which runs until next June 30. The city's fiscal year ends April 30. The budget is expected to be kept in a special fund by the city and checks drawn against it.

Schools Supt. Edward Fillback has been meeting with city officials to discuss plans for the changeover and he will present a report at the special meeting.

Payrolls and other fiscal problems will be discussed at the special meeting. The district school office will probably continue to draft the payrolls which then would be paid by the city coptroller out of district funds turned over to the city.

Effective Nov. 10
Under the schedule, school consolidation becomes effective Nov. 10, a week after tax district consolidation. The tax district consolidation Nov. 3 will put the city under one tax rate with special districts for fire and sanitation. The mechanics of this turnover will be arranged at the November Common Council meeting when ordinances to effect the consolidation recently voted by the city will be considered.

Joint Board Session.
In preparation for the Nov. 10 school changeover the city's two present boards of education will hold a joint meeting Nov. 4 to discuss consolidation problems.

This meeting will be held in the MHS library. The two boards under consolidation become one 15 member board. This will operate the schools until the 1961 elections.

The City School District is the last special school district in the state. It operated by special charter and also was one of the oldest school districts in the state.

The City District came into being as a result of the establishment of Middletown High School, the state's oldest high school. This was opened in 1841 six years before Hartford opened its first high school.

Actually it was one of the first in the entire area and the idea was so new at the time that for many years it was one of the city's sightseeing wonders.
On October 2nd, of 1841, the Hartford Daily Courant had an opinion piece about public education which highlighted the enormous success of the public schools of our city. It seems to have been written to urge the citizens of Hartford to emulate our success.

The article pointed to a study in 1838-39 by a committee of "public spirited individuals" in Middletown, which found inadequate support for education, and were motivated to build a high school:
Expense of those who were in no schools must be calculated after they have become the inmates of poor houses, jails and prisons--the monuments of neglected or perverted education.
They went to work to correct a state of things so disgraceful to their intelligence, public spirit, and benevolence.
The number attending the public schools has more than doubled, and among them are the children of the wealthiest and best educated families of the city. Side by side in the same school room, and in the same classes may be seen the children of the richest and the poorest, --a sight which cannot be seen in any other public school in any city of Connecticut,--although it can in Boston and other large towns in Massachusetts.
... A large substantial building 72 feet by 54, and capable of accommodating both departments of the high school, with suitable recitation rooms, is nearly completed. It stands in the centre of a spacious lot, affording large and separate play grounds for the boys and girls, and in respect to location, size, ventilation, light, and all the essential features of a good school house, presents a broad contrast to any structure of the kind in this city. The school meetings are numerously attended, not by those who vote down every proposition to improve the schools, but by those who wish to give their cordial co-operation to the school committee.


Anonymous said...

I found this very interesting. The old MHS on College and Court Streets is well remembered but where was the original MHS Thanks?

Liz Warner said...

It was the former Center School on College Street (now part of Hamlin Court)

Anonymous said...

My mistake I meant to say the old MHS on Pearl and Court Streets that is now senior housing. The Central School on College Street was the original site of the 1841 MHS. Thanks.