This Day in Dayton, 25 May

An article on May 26, 1851, in the Lafayette Courier attempted to interpret the new school law and suggests that the district schools were organized in the 1850s. In 1849 the first law had been passed, authorizing a general direct tax of 10 cents per $100 valuation for school purposes (Cotton, Cottman, Dunn). In 1852 the state legislature passed a law regarding school financing which must have occasioned many a heated conversation around the stove at Favorite’s store. The 1852 law allowed a local property tax to support the schools, subject to a vote at the local level. It also reorganized the school administration setting up a school fund at the state level and a state superintendent of public instruction. A final provision allowed for city school corporations. Many people objected strongly to being taxed for schools. In 1855 a suit initiated by a Lafayette man raised a constitutional question, and the municipal corporations were declared unconstitutional, causing disruption of many city schools. Israel Hatton, in his series on Dayton in the Mulberry Reporter, states that as a result of the 1851 constitution the public school system was organized and put into operation in 1852. He says that before that date, schools were supported by the counties or communities either by subscription or by self-imposed taxes.

Susan ClawsonComment