Budget Demonstrates How County Schools Once Operated

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Budget Demonstrates How County Schools Once Operated


The superintendent's annual budget report to the Madison County Board of Education for the 1932-33 fiscal year might seem a bit dull reading for many folks. However, that old document shows a lot about our county schools and how they were operated 60 years ago. For example, the local Standard Oil Co. distributor was paid $99.86 for oil for the floors in the school buildings. A.C. Sharp, Cale B. Turpin, J.N. Sallee, Speed Taylor, and Pleasant Evans were the five board members, and the superintendent was N.S. Bowman. In the year 1932-33, in the midst of the great depression, the school system spent $113, 875 on operating the schools, but also had to deal with $33,000 of indebtedness left over from the previous year! The total budget for that year, after reducing the indebtedness to about $5,000, was $141,966. Salaries for regular elementary teachers ran about $500 to $750 for the year. There were about 115 elementary school teachers, mostly serving in one-room schools. We can't list them all, but older citizens may remember names such as Betty Curtis, Verna and Cora Dunbar, Florence Hendren, Raymond Layne, Ruth Masters, Jamie Pullins, Eula Reams, Ona Lee Tracy and Zobie Wood. Nineteen high school teachers took care of all the secondary education offered by the Madison County Board of Education. Included were such wellknown persons as A.C. Duncan; J.D. Hamilton, who later was superintendent; Ralph Alexander. Sam J. Denney; Verna Richardson; and Tabitha Tudor. Their annual salaries, higher than the elementary teachers' pay, ranged from $775 to about $ 1,200. Wm. Alton Smith had the highest salary, $1,222.20. N.S. Bowman received a salary of $701 for high school teaching, and $525 plus expenses for serving as the superintendent. The five board members each received $100 a year. Among the disbursements in the 1932-33 school year were $3.12 for window shades at Ruthton School, $4 for "kindling and repair" at Buffalo, and $2.59 to Margaret Turpin for library books for Red House School. Glen Short received $5 for repairing seats at Newby School; Beatrice Johnson was paid $13.85 for repairs at Grapevine School. Linseed oil, turpentine and water pails for several schools amounted to $5.50. Repairs to windows and roofs and the cleaning of privies were frequent items in the long list of disbursements. J.F. Sallee, Wm. Evans, Daniel Griggs and C.W. Whitaker were paid for coal delivered to the various little schools throughout the county. L.W. Hardin, the Richmond builder, was paid $2,010 for erecting the school-house at Poosey. Another $31.96 was spent on a blackboard for that new school; and Luther Isbell was paid $4 for hauling used desks and seats to Poosey. Berea College was paid $6 for supplying water to Middleton School and Upper Silver Creek School. Printing of eighth grade diplomas cost $44. The total cost of telephone service for the year was only $70.43.


Dr. Robert Grise




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Dr. Robert Grise, “Budget Demonstrates How County Schools Once Operated,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed June 15, 2024, https://madisonsheritage.eku.edu/items/show/946.