Banks County Grand Jury Presentment April, 1859
The Grand Jury chosen selected and sworn for the April Term 1859 of the County of Banks and State of Georgia. Having taken into consideration the provisions of the Act passed by the last Legislature for the Education of the Children of the State between certain ages,
After consultation with the Ordinary recomend and present the following common school system to be introduced and put into operation at the commencement of the next year in accordance with the provisions of the aforesaid Act, viz.,
1st. We recomend that the Inferior Court of said County levy a tax of ten per cent upon the State tax for school purposes and further that the Money raised by said tax together with all the money received from the State Treasury during the present year for Educational purposes be used as a poor school fund for the payment of all just accounts that shall have accumilated against said school fund at the close of the present year.
2nd. The Inferior Court shall appoint a board of examiners who shall meet from time to time on their adjournment and whose duty it shall be to examine all Teachers in the public schools both as to their competency to teach the elementary branches of learning & as to their moral character and give all Teachers whose competency & moral character they shall approve written certificates of such approval and no Teacher shall receive any portion of the common school fund untill he or she shall have exhibited to the Ordinary a certificate from said examiners And further no teacher shall receive any thing from the poor school fund of the present year untill he or she shall have exhibited a similar certificate.
3rd. As soon as practical the Ordinary shall appoint three commissioners of each Militia district who shall meet at the call of the Ordinary at New Lebanon and divide the County into school districts. Twelve of said commissioners shall be a quorum the Ordinary shall preside over their deliberations and case of tie shall give the casting vote. Each district shall contain not less than twenty children between the ages of eight and eighteen nor more than one hundred.
4th When the County shall have been divided into districts the Board of examiners any three of whom shall be a quorum, shall appoint three schoolteachers in each district who after they shall have taken & subscribed a solemn oath before the Ordinary that they will faithfully and impartially discharging all their duties as trustees shall proceed to select a site fo the district school house, with the consent of the proprietors they make use of existing school houses when fit for the purpose and sufficiently central. In selecting a site for a school house the trustees shall keep in view the interest and convenience of all the children and a central position to all inhabited parts of the district, they may however depart from a central location whenever in their impartial judgement and discrtion circumstances and the general interest of the district so require.
5th When new school houses must be built the trustees shall if possible secure valid title to the land on which it is to stand to be vested in the Ordinary as Trustee and in his successors in office forever, and the house and lot shall be for ever devoted to the purposes of a public school unless some future Grand Jury shall recommend the sale of any house and lot and expending the proceeds of such sale for the benefit of the district in which it is located.
6th The trustees shall not permit any teacher to teach in the public schools untill they shall have been fully assured that such teacher is competent and of good moral character and untill each teacher shall have exhibited to them a certificate from the board of examiners in their respective schools at least once a quarter and at the Close of school. They shall give to the teacher if he or she desire it a written certificate of fidelity and competency and without such certificate no teacher can receive anything from the common school fund.
7th. When suitable and available school houses do not exist in any district as the school fund is small at present the trustees will endeavor to prevail upon the people of such district to build by contribution or otherwise a house for the district on the site previously fixed upon by the trustees themselves in order that none of the small fund may be spent at present on the building.
8th. The Trustees of each district before the first day of September in every year shall return to the Ordinary a statement on the condition of their school showing how long it has been in operation during the year, the number of children taught, the salary paid to the teacher, the number of poor children in the school, and any other information which he may acquire in accordance with the law and any trustee failing to make this return shall draw no part of the school funds but the same shall be held for them by the Ordinary untill such return shall have been made. These returns shall be copied by the Ordinary. The Originals filed in his office and Copies or summaries thereof given to the Senator from the County to be laid before the Senators Academicus.
9th. The Trustees shall hold their office during good behaviour subject to removal by the Grand Jury for malpractice. Any vacancy that may occur in their number shall be speedily filled by the remaining trustees or trustee to the board of Examiners who shall fill the vacancy.
10th. The boundaries of school districts when once established shall not be changed except of the recommendation of the Grand Jury but the children living in one district may attend school an other school with the approbation and consent of the Trustees in the district in which they reside and of the Trustees of the school which they wish to attend.
11th. No teachers in this County shall receive after the present year any part of the school fund except teachers in the public or district Schools herein provided.
12th. After the Trustees of the several districts shall have made their annual returns to the Ordinary as herein required the Ordinary shall apportion out the whole school fund to the several districts in proportion to the number of Children attending school and pay over the same to the teachers of the several districts on the order of the trustees in payment of the tuition fees due for the instruction of all children between the ages of eight and eighteen in the elementary branches of learning and the Ordinary shall retain five per cent of the whole school fund as fees for his services.
13th. The public schools shall be open to all children in the district between the ages of eight and eighteen and no child between said ages shall at anytime be excluded from the school in his or her district except for insubordination or gross immorality and in accordance with the advice and approbation of the Trustees.
14th. But nothing in this system shall be construed as to prevent teachers from making special contracts with parents or guardians of the chidren to the effect that such parents and guardiand as are willing and able to do so shall pay all balances of Tuition fees not paid from the general fund, but no children shall be deprived of the advantages of the school in their district because parents or guardians refuse to make such contract.
15th. The daily reading of the Bible in the common version shall be a part of the exercises of every public school. The school houses shall always be free on the Sabbath day when desired for the use of Union or unsectarian Sabbath schools and other religious exerecises and also during the week for such religious exercises when not occupied by the school.
16th. Trustees may for good reasons to be Judged of by themselves dismiss any Teacher from their schools.
We furthermore recommend Inferior court to levy twenty per cent on the State tax for County purposes.
In taking leave of his honor we tender him our thanks for the able and impartial manner in which he has presided over our Court during the present Term. Also Solicitor North for his Courtesy towards our body.
John W. Pruitt, Foreman
Samuel W. Pruitt
Dixon L. Baker
Thomas B. Higgins
James D. Martin
Freeman A. Garrison
James G. Bowdoin (Bowden)
John L. Gordon
W. J. Burgess
T. A. Neal
J. N. Turk
J. M. McMillan
Joel D. Gunnels
John E. Chambers
William B. Burns
Eli T. Wilmot
Transcribed from original records of the Court of the Ordinary, Homer, Georgia, 2004 by Jacqueline King