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HON. A. N. FISHER, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, was born at Nor. wich, New York, in 1837, and educated in home schools and at Cazenovia Seminary. He proceeded to Nevada, in 1864, the year that the territory became a State, as a Presiding Elder under appointment of the California Methodist Annual Conference. In 1866, he was elected to the office of State Superintendent, for four years. In 1870, he was re-elected for a like term.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST.
NEVADA was admitted into the Union as a State in 1864. Her Constitution directed the Legislature to encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, literáry, scientific, mining, mechanical, agricultural, and moral improvements, to provide for the election of a Superintendent of Public Instruction, the organization of a uniform system of Common Schools, establishment of a State University, embracing departments of agriculture, mechanic arts, and mining, and the establishment of Normal Schools and schools of different grades, from the Primary School to the University,“ in which no sectarian instruction shall be imparted or tolerated.” The Constitution furthermore stipulated that a half-mill tax should be levied upon all taxable property for the maintenance of the University and Common Schools, and that the sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections in every township, the thirty thousand acres for each senator and representative in Congress, by the Act of 1862, the fifty thousand acres granted to new States in 1841, and all escheats and fines for penal offenses, should be held and used for educational purposes, the interest thereof only to be applied as directed in the law donating the same. The Legislature were likewise authorized to enact a compulsory educational law.
PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM. In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution the Legislature of Nevada in the following year, 1865, enacted a public school law, which was more or less modified by measures passed in 1867, 1869, and in 1873. The following are the main features of the school system now in operation.
The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is elected for four years, and receives an annual salary of $2,000. The term of the present incumbent expires December 31, 1874. He is required to apportion school moneys, prescribe forms and blanks, hold teachers' institutes, visit each county in the State once at least every year, and to make a biennial report to the · Governor.
The State Board of Education, consisting of the Governor, Surveyor-General, and Superintendent of Public Instruction, is required to hold semi-annual sessions for devising plans for the improvement and management of the public school funds, and for the better organization of the public schools, and to prescribe uniform text-books.
County Superintendents in the State number fourteen, and are elected by the respective counties for two years. Their average annual salary, which is fixed by the County Boards of Commissioners, is $550. They perform the duties usually incumbent upon County Superintendents.
Trustees employ teachers, fix salaries, levy sufficient taxes (when the regular school money fails) to keep the schools open six months, and perform the other functions of school trustees. Districts with less than fifteen hundred voters have three trustees. Those with more have five trustees.
County Boards of Examination consist of the County Superintendents and two persons in each county appointed by and associated with them.
The School Census Marshal is annually appointed by the trustees.
No teacher is entitled to receive any portion of the public school moneys as compensation for services rendered, unless such teacher shall have had a certificate from the State Board of Examination, or from the County Board of Examination. The legal school age is from six to eighteen.
The School Fund consists of the principal of all moneys accruing to the State from the sale of lands given or bequeathed for public school purposes; all fines collected under the penal laws
of the State; two per cent. of the gross proceeds of all toll roads and bridges ; and all estates that may escheat to the State. This fund is distributed semi-annually among the various counties, in proportion to the number of children of legal school age.
An ad valorem tax of one half of one mill on the dollar of all taxable property in the State is levied and directed to be collected and paid in the same manner as other State taxes are required to be paid. This is known as the State school tax.
There is set apart, semi-annually, five per cent. out of all moneys received as State tax, for school purposes; and such amount is distributed pro rata.
There are no Normal Schools in the State.
LATEST SCHOOL LEGISLATION.
The Legislature, which meets biennially, held no session during 1874. In 1873, the County. Boards of Examination were established.
The portion of the law relating to trustees was so amended as to provide that the boards shall be so constituted that there may always be at least one experienced member. The powers of trustees were enlarged in respect to the amount of expenditure possible without a vote of the district. A proposition to make the proceedings of trustees public was also adopted. They are now required to keep a record which shall at all times be open to the inspection of taxpayers in the district, and to publish in some newspaper full minutes of the proceedings of each session.
A compulsory school law was also passed. It is made obligatory upon parents and guardians to send every child between the ages of eight and fourteen years to a public school for a period of at least sixteen weeks in each school-year, at least eight weeks of which shall be consecutive, unless the child is being otherwise instructed or is excused from attendance by the Board of Trustees for some satisfactory reason.
The penalty for non-compliance with the provisions of this act is a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $100 for the first offense, nor less than $100 nor more than $200 for each subsequent offense. The children of indigent parents thus compelled to attend school are furnished with books by the trustees.
An act was also passed to locate the State University, and to provide for the control and maintenance of the same.
TEN YEARS' PROGRESS.
1873-4. School districts in the State........ ............ 34....
62 School-houses erected during the year...... 2.... Estimated total value of school-houses......$34,733.50.... $69,413.00 Pupils enrolled in the schools...
• 1,524.... 3,372 Average daily attendance.
.... 940.... 2,080 Male Teachers employed. .......
14.... Average wages. ....... ........
$89.76.... $116.53 Female teachers employed. ..
.. 23.... 47 Average wages........
$82.20.... $88.73 Amount of State School Fund............ $9,257.11....$274,000.00 Legal school age...
6 to 18.... 6 to 18 Average cost for schooling for each scholar.. $40,69.... $29,20 Total receipts for school purposes......... $61,984.56....$110,961.68 Total expenditures.
HON. J. WESLEY SIMONDS, Superintendent of Public Instruction, was born in Franklin, May 10, 1829. He fitted for college at Northfield, pursued the studies of the freshman year under M. L. Morse, A.M., at Andover, N. H., and entered Bow. doin College at the beginning of the sophomore year. He graduated in 1854, and received the Master's degree in course. Having had an experience in teaching the public schools, for three years after graduation he was Principal of the Fisherville High School, later known as Pennacook Academy. In 1857–58 he was Principal of the Christian Institute at Andover, N. H. In 1870 he was again chosen Principal of that institution. In 1871 he was appointed by the Governor and Council Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State. In July, 1874, Mr. Simonds was unanimously reappointed State Superintendent.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST.
The term “ Free School" first appears in the legislation of this country in a law of Virginia, founding a free school at Charles City, in 1621. Such a school was founded in Boston in 1636, and in New Haven in 1638. The first settlements of New Hampshire were distinct sovereignties, making their own laws, until they voluntarily submitted to Massachusetts, in 1641. Afterward they were governed by the general laws of the latter State until the time of final separation, in 1741.
The acts of the Provincial Legislature, June 14, 1642, and November 11, 1647, constituted the school laws of these colonies, with immaterial changes, until after the Revolution. The act of 1642 ordered "Selectmen of towns to have a vigilant eye over their neighbors, to see that none of them shall suffer so much barbarism in any of their families as not to endeavor to teach their children and apprentices so much learning as may enable them to read perfectly the English tongue.” The law of 1647 ordered that every township of fifty householders should appoint one within their town to teach all such children as resorted to him to write, read, and, after “ye Lord hath increased yem to ye number of 100 householders, they set up a grammar school, yo master thereof being able to instruct youth as far as they may be fitted for yo University."
In 1789 the Legislature determined the amount of money that should be raised by taxation for schooling, viz.: four pounds for every one pound of the proportion of public taxes to the individual town. Provision was also made for the examination