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Chapter V

Present Educational Conditions

In the preceding chapters an attempt has been made to show the educational development of Ashe County up to 1920. Although many details of the story have not been treated, the discussion has been sufficiently complete to show the general educational trend in the county. The educational enthusiasm that characterized the state at various times during the periods under discussion appears to have risen in Ashe County rather tardily. However, the previous discussions show that some real efforts were made of enrich and expand the school system of the state. The present chapter will attempt to point out the educational progress made in the county since 1920.

No efforts have been made to reorganize the schools in accordance with the general county wide plan. During the early part of this period, under the direction of Mr. R. E. L. Plummer, consolidation project was begun in the Greasy Creek community, the Virginia-Carolina High School forming the nucleus. Three small schools were abandoned and the students transported to the central school, one wagon being used is transporting the pupils in 1922-23. This appears to be the first attempt to transport pupils is Ashe county at public expense. The Virginia-Carolina High School has continued to grow, and at the present time (1929) employs fourteen teachers in all the departments. This school maintains teacher training, agricultural end domestic science departments, and in every respect is the largest school to the county.

Largely through the influence of Mr. R.E.L. Plummer another consolidation project is under way at Crumpler. The Fairview, Crumpler, and part of the Chestnut Hill schools have been consolidated, and a modern twelve room building constructed This school will open in 1929 with seven teachers. With the exception of the foregoing projects little has been done in the way of consolidation. West Jefferson High School is the second largest in the county. This school employs ten teachers in all the departments which at the present include domestic science and commercial courses. Lansing High School and the Jefferson High School are both on the accredited list, the former employing eight teachers and the latter six teachers. There are four accredited high schools maintained in the county Grassy Creek, West Jefferson, Jefferson, and Lansing, The following non-accredited. high schools are in operation: Helton, Bowie, Green Valley, Elkland, and Crumpler. The following tables show the rapid growth of high school enrollment and of high school graduates during the period under discussion:

Public High School Enrollment
Year Amount
1920 99
1921 105
1922 147
1923 282
1924 242
1925 385
1926 580
1927 576
Eight year increase 477
Public High School Graduates
Year Amount
1920 5
1921 11
1922 12
1923 37
1924 34
1925 33
1926 38
1927 73
Eight Year Increase 68

The tables show an increase of 481 percent in the high school enrollment, and an increase of 1360 percent in the number of graduates, Although this increase in the number of high school pupils enrolled is significant, still the number enrolled in 1927 is only about 8 percent of the total school enrollment of the county, as compared with 14.2 percent for the whole state.

All children of the county who desire to attend high school are permitted to go free of charge for the six months term provided by the state. Those students who do not live in the special tax school districts pay tuition for the extended term. According to the report of the Mate Educational Commission in 1927, there were the following special school tax districts in the county.

School Tax Districts
District Rate Amount
Bowie 30 $1,177.85
Elkland 20 463.71
Grassy Creek 30 1,034.95
Green Valley 20 250.25
Helton 20 463.00
Jefferson 20 720.22
Lansing 30 909.63
Oval 20 206.22
River View 20 549.72
Sutherland 20 518:11
West Jefferson 30 2,008.00
Total for the County 8,101.66

The above amount received from local ad valorem taxes represents only about 6.5 percent of the total receipts for the current school expense fund for 1927, as compared with 19.4 percent for the entire state. This snows that Ashe County is far behind the pane set by the state in supplementing state and county funds. It alas indicates that the only schooling received by the majority of the school children in she County is that provided by the constitutional six months term-there were seventy three six months’ schools in the county in 1927.

The total amount of revenue received for school purposes from all sources for the year 1920-27 was $131,70.41. This amount was derived from the following sources:

Revenue for Schools
Category Amount
State Funds $33,545.39
Poll Tax 4,191.00
Fines, Forfeitures, Penalities 1,537.97
Dog Tax 1,814.00
Other Sources 609.00
County Ad Valorem 62,506.01
Local Tax 8423.25
Rural Libraries 50.00
Temporary Loans 3,000:00
Total Income All Sources $131,767.41

In 1927 the county spent $129,061.01 for education. The disbursements and the amount spent for each item were as follows:

Educational Disbursements
Category Amount
Instructional Services $110,814.99
General Control 3,830.94
Operation of Plant 3,150.01
Maintenance of plant 1,39.05
Fixed Charges 30.00
Auxiliary Agencies 4,242.05
Capital Outlay Fund 2,9413.14
Debt Service Fund 2,666.83
Total $129,081.01

The above tables show that in 1927 Ashe County spent about 85 per cent of her school funds for instructional services, as compared with 76 per cent for the entire state. Although the expenditures of the county for instructional services were 9 per cent greater than for the state, still in the per capita its cost of instruction Ashe County ranked 99, in comparison with the other counties of the state. The per capita cost of instruction in Ashe County for 1925-26 was $14.54, as compared with $26.54 for the whole state.

Although the total disbursements for education in Ashe were 125 per cent more in 1927 than in 1920, still the county ranked 98 in total school expenditures, as compared with the other counties of the state, The par capita school expenditure for Ashe in 1927 was $19.13, as compared with the state average of $39.63.

The value of school property increased $199,850 or 369 per cent during the period from 1919 to 1927. This is a significant increase, but in comparison with the 582 per cent increase in the value of the school property for the state during the same period, shows up rather poorly. The State School Facts, published at Raleigh shows that in 1928 Ashe County ranked 99, in comparison with the other counties of the state as to the value of school property.

In 1925-26 Ashe County ranked 98 among the counties of the state in the number of one room schools-thirty-two such schools having bean reported in the county for that year. About 58 per cent of the pupils enrolled in the public schools of Ashe in 1925-26 were found in one and two teacher schools. When we consider the inefficiency of the instruction in these types of schools, together with the short school term, which in no case exceeds the minimum length fixed by the state, the disadvantage at which these children are placed is apparent. The average length of tape school term for the white children was only four days longer in 1927 than it was in 1921, the term that year being 124 days. The colored. children attended school 120 days in 1927 which was fifty-five days longer than they attended in 1921, still in no instance does the term in these colored schools exceed the constitutional six months’ term.

As stated elsewhere in this chapter little has been done in the way of consolidating the schools of this county. o statement, however, as to the growth of transportation o: pupils will indicate the tendency toward a more effective consolidation program. In 1922-23 only one wagon was used in the transportation of pupils but in 1925 there were five wagons and three motor trucks transporting pupils to four schools; in 1927 the county had a fleet of eleven trucks which made an average of sixty-six miles a day, transporting 387 pupils to five schools. Most of the pupils in the one, two, and three room schools walk, many walking two miles or more.

In 1927 the bonded indebtedness of the county was $1,445,000. None of the proceeds of these bonds was spent for school purposes. The total school indebtedness of the county in 1927 was only $9,000, or six-tenths of one per cent of the entire indebtedness of the county. The bulk of the resources from these bonds was spent for road construction, although a large part of the roads are still untouched, and during the winter era frequently are impassable. The heavy taxes incurred by these bonds, and the apparent lack of wisdom with which their proceeds wars spent, have made the people antagonistic toward the issuing of bonds or increasing the tax rate for the purpose of any form of public improvement. The County Commissioners have adopted a very conservative policy, which makes it difficult to execute a creditable school building program.

The following tables show the development of the county in the field of education during the period covered by this chapter.

Total Value of School Property
Year Amount
1923 180,375
1924 248,000
1925 250,000
1926 260,000
1927 253,900
Five year increase $73,525
Total Public School Expenditures
Year Amount
1921 $ 8,937.71
1922 90,755.77
1923 107,103.24
1924 106,616.03
1925 124,296.58
1926 130,846.21
1927 129,081,01
Seven year increase $39,709.30
Total Number of Teachers Employed
Year Amount
1921 165
1922 168
1923 177
1924 176
1925 187
1926 190
1927 193
Seven Year Increase 28
Total Public School Enrollment
Year Amount
1921 5810
1922 6279
1923 6308
1924 6559
1925 6742
1926 7153
1927 6609
Seven Year Increase 899
Average Daily Attendance
Year Amount
1921 2979
1922 4298
1923 4323
1924 4544
1925 5148
1926 4975
1927 4766
Seven Year Increase 1787
Length of School Term in Days
Year White Colored
1921 120 65
1922 120 60
1923 130 60
1924 149 117
1925 124 100
1926 149 120
1927 124 120
Seven Year Increase 4 55
Rank of Teachers in Scholarship
Year Rank
1923 90
1924 90
1925 86
1926 91
1927 92
1928 97