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The Board of Education has the honor to lay before the Legislature its sixty-third annual report.
In so doing the Board embraces the occasion to congratulate its fellow servants of the Commonwealth upon the soundness of our educational structure and the healthy activity of its manifold functions.
Our schools are the outgrowth and index of our civilization. They embody and express in large measure what we are and what we aspire to be as a people. They look before and after. Holding with a firm grasp what is most valuable of the traditions and usages of the past, they at the same time reach forward in the endeavor to anticipate and provide for that future towards which our youth are hastening with eager steps. Especially, as we approach the end of the present century, it is gratifying to find evidence that our public schools, in which such treasure of pride and hope is centred, have not failed to keep equal step with the expansion and development of the many agencies of human welfare — material, intellectual, social and spiritual — that have distinguished our age and country. Our schools have never received, and we believe they have never deserved, a more confident and cordial support than has been accorded them by the people of the State during the year covered by the report herewith submitted.
It is not deemed necessary to review in detail or even to summarize, in this place, all the various reports hereto appended, which exhibit, with great fulness and from many points of view, the educational condition of the State, and set forth the work done during the past year by the Board and its agents. Nothing has occurred of such signal importance, and no need exists of such pressing exigency, as to demand here any lengthened recital or discussion. A few points, however, have been selected, which should perhaps be emphasized as requiring or deserving special attention.
EDUCATIONAL CONDITIONS, AS SHOWN BY STATISTICS. The report of the secretary passes in review, item by item, the educational condition of the State, so far as that condition can be gathered from the detailed information furnished by the various local officers required by law to report to the Board. In addition to this, the agents of the Board present many facts, impressions and opinions of value, accumulated in the course of numerous visitations, conferences, etc., which bring them into close contact with schools, teachers, parents and the community generally.
From the statistics at command, to which we refer those who desire fuller details, it appears that our public schools during the year have increased in patronage; that the increase is probably in a slightly greater proportion than that of the population ; that the private schools have shown a decrease; that professionally trained teachers are gaining, both absolutely and relatively, upon the entire teaching force; that salaries are about stationary ; that the consolidation of small schools is still going on; that the expense of supervision by school committees has increased more than that of supervision by superintendents; that the cost of text-books and supplies has diminished; that a little less money has been expended on sundries; that a little more has been spent on new school buildings, a little more on ordinary repairs, but much less on alterations and permanent improvement of old buildings; and that a slightly larger percentage of the total valuation of the State has been expended on the public schools for all purposes exclusive of buildings, and a slightly less percentage for all purposes inclusive of buildings. This may all be substantially summed up in the general statement that the year which the statistics cover shows a marked increase in the numbers of persons with whom the public schools have been concerned, and continued steadiness and force in the movement to provide these schools with excellent accommodations and equipment,