THE PUBLIC FREE SCHOOL
COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Captain Franklin Ellis151
The act establishing the present common-school system of Hudson is chapter 350, of 1841, passed May 26, in that year. This act made the members of the common council, by virtue of their office, commissioners of common schools in and for the city, and gave to them the appointment of a board of superintendents, to consist of three persons; these to be also inspectors of schools.
By the provisions of the act the city was to be divided by the commissioners into not less than three school districts, and in each of these it was made their duty to "cause to be built or procured, such school-house or school-houses and out-houses as shall appear to them suitable and sufficient." "For the purpose of procuring suitable school-houses for said city, with such appurtenances as may be deemed expedient," the common council was authorized to borrow the sum of $5000; and the comptroller was authorized to loan to the city of Hudson, out of the common-school fund of the State, the sum of $5000, to be repaid in twenty equal yearly installments, with interest at the rate of 6 per cent per annum.
The commissioners divided the city into three school districts, as follows: all that part lying west of the west line of Second street was laid off and designated as district No. 1; all the part lying between the easterly line of Second street and the westerly line of Fifth street was made a district, and numbered 2; and the part lying above the easterly line of Fifth street was denominated school district No. 3. These divisions were made by and with the recommendation and advice of a committee of the Lancaster trustees.
Oliver Bronson, Josiah W. Fairfield, and Cyrus Curtiss were the first superintendents of schools for Hudson, and, on the 6th of August, 1841, they were authorized to purchase sites for school-houses, viz.: a lot of Clark and Dimmick, on the southerly side of Partition street, between Front and Second, and a lot on the north side of Diamond street, between Fifth and Sixth streets. These lots were soon after purchased as sites for school-houses numbers 1 and 3, and have been used as such until the present time. The Lancaster building, transferred by the trustees of that society to the city, became, and is to-day, the school-house of district 2.
The common-school system of Hudson has now been in operation for thirty-seven years, with reasonable success, and no material change. The number of school districts and school-houses is now the same as at the commencement, though in the mean time a colored school (numbered 4) has been in operation, and was only recently abandoned.
House No. 2 (corner of Fourth and State streets) is now devoted exclusively to schools for girls, who attend there from all parts of the city. The principal of the grammar department is Miss Mary Gifford; of the intermediate and primary, Miss Carrie Tompkins.
At schools numbers 1 and 3 none but males attend. The division line of territory, as between these, is Fourth street; boys residing below that line attending No. 1, and those above it No. 3. The principal of school No. 1 is L. W. Reid; of No. 3, W. C. Wilcox.
By the report of the school superintendents of Hudson for 1877, it is shown that there were in the city 3598 children of school age, of whom 1415 attended school some part of the year; the average daily attendance having been 749- 186/198. The number of teachers was 23, and the number of weeks the schools were taught, 41. The amount of public money apportioned to the city was $5006.98; amount raised by tax for all school purposes, $6000; amount paid for teachers' wages, $9492.
The salaries paid the principals of schools numbers 1 and 3 are, to each $1300 per annum. The salary of the teacher of the grammar department of No. 2 is $650; and to the principal of the intermediate and primary department, same school $400 is paid.
The three school-houses are of brick, and valued at $24,000. Value of school-house sites, $10,000.
The number of volumes in the public-school library is 1300, valued at $1200.
The board of school commissioners is now composed of Messrs. Cyrus Macy, T. T. Calkins, Willard Peck, Leonard J. Rossman, and William R. Elting.