Copyright
statutes Illinois. Laws.

School laws of Illinois online

. (page 12 of 26)
Online Librarystatutes Illinois. LawsSchool laws of Illinois → online text (page 12 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


the best and most upright county superintendents in the state,
not to be affected to some extent, consciously or unconsciously,
by considerations of the pecuniary consequences to them of the
success or failure of the candidate ; and even where the superin-
tendent was absolutely free from the slightest bias of that kind,
it was not unfrequently difficult or impossible to convince the
public of that fact. In every aspect of it therefore, whether we
regard what is due to the teacher or the independence and free-
dom of the examiner, the amendment is a good one ; coupled as
it is with the more liberal policy, adopted in another part of the
act, in respect to the compensation of the superintendent. The
prohibition as to fees applies to all certificates, whether granted
at public or private examinations. It is the duty of county super-
intendents to keep on hand a supply of blank certificates, to be
filled out from time to time as required ; and the cost of such
. blanks may be paid out of the school fund.

It is a singular omission of the law that it makes no provision
for an office for the county superintendent. The position of
superitttendent is an important one, and yearly becoming more so ;
his business, educational, financial and general, is very extensive,



100 SCHOOL LAWS OF LLLINOIS, WITH

bringing him into official relations with many persons from all
parts of the county ; and yet his pay has been so meagre that, in
the absence of any legal provisions on the subject, he has been
compelled to keep his records, receive visitors, and transact all
his. official business at his private residence, or such other casual
place as he was able to procure. It is true that, in some coun-
ties, rooms have been famished in the com't house or other public
buildino-s free of expense, but as a general rule no such accom-
modation has been extended to him, and he has been obliged to
get along as best he could. I^ot only has this state of things
subjected the county superintendent and his family and the pub-
lic to great inconvenience, but it has also, in many instances, im-
periled the safety of the notes, bonds, mortgages and other evi-
dences of indebtedness, together with valuable papers and records
of which the county superintendent is the legal custodian. This
state of things could not have been contemplated or intended by
the legislature. The office of county superintendent should be as
well known, and as accessible to the public, as that of any other
county officer ; he should not be compelled to transact his public
business in some out-of-the-way place, nor to use any portion of
his private residence for the public service. "Whenever the resi-
dence of the superintendent wiU. admit, he should have an office
at the county seat, or if not there, in the nearest large town, and
he should cause it to be pubKcly understood where his office is,
and when he can be found there for the transaction of public
business. Holding these views to be self-evident and essential
to the public good, and not incompatible with the spirit and in-
tent of the law, county courts and boards of supervisors are re-
spectfully requested to make provision, by appropriation or
otherwise, for suitable offices for county superintendents. It is
much better that this should be done by the county authorities,
who undoubtedly have the same right to provide office accommo-
dations for county superintendents of schools, as for sheriffs,
county clerks, or any other county officer. But if the county
authorities decline or neglect to act in the matter, then the super-
intendents themselves are hereby authorized to procure suitable
offices and office accommodations, and to defray the necessary ex-
penses out of the school fund of the county. The strictest econ-
omy must be observed by superintendents acting under this au-
thority. No unnecessary or unreasonable expense is to be in-



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 101

curred ; but whatever is necessary in the premises, may be done ;
for it is absolutely essential that these officers should have appro-
priate facilities for the transaction of their public business, and
the orderly arrangement and safe custody of their books and
papers.

KEMAKKS ON SECTION 54, AS AMENDED.

In considering the amendments to this section, attention is first
called to the very just provision for the protection of teachers
after the delivery of their schedules to the directors. Heretofore,
in case of the loss of schedules after such delivery, or the failure
of the directors to place them in the hands of the township treas-
iirer within the time fixed by law, teachers were practically with-
out remedy ; in some instances incurring the loss of the entire
amount due, and in others being compelled to wait six months
or more for their pay, besides being subjected to great incon-
venience and expense. By this amendment teachers are author-
ized to demand, and directors are required to give, receipts for
schedules, on their delivery by the former to the latter, and direc-
tors are made personally liable for any loss sustained by the
teacher, through their failure or neglect to dispose of schedules
coming into their hands, according to law. The receipt of the
directors is conclusive evidence against them, and in favor of the
teacher. This provision is not founded in any distrust of the in-
tegrity of school directors, but is simply a plain, business matter,
necessary to the protection of teachers, and infringing upon no
right or privilege of the director. The certified schedule of the
teacher represents a money value, upon surrendering which it is
proper that he should receive a legal equivalent ; said schedule
is the evidence upon which he relies for the proceeds of his labor.
Where losses have occurred, through failure of directors to file
the schedule with the township treasurer in time, it is no doubt
in almost all cases to be attributed to inattention or inadvertence,
and not to any purpose of defrauding the teachers ; but, what-
ever the cause, the right of the teacher to redress is not dimin-
ished. Should losses of this kind hereafter occur, it will be the
fault of the teacher in neglecting to avail himself of the security
here provided.

The rights of teachers are further protected by the declaration
contained in this section that their schedules are legally due and



102 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, WITH

payable on the first Mondays of April and October of eacb year,
and that all balances remaining due and unpaid after said dates
respectively, shall draw interest at the rate of ten per cent, per
annum, until paid.

This legislation is an act of simple justice, all the more wel-
come because so tardy, toward a most deserving class of men and
women. Whatever opinions may be entertained to the contrary
by the uninformed, the prejudiced, or the unthinking, it is un-
questionably true that well qualified and faithful teachers are
poorer paid in proportion to the talents required, the labor per-
formed and the good done, than any other class of persons in the
commonwealth. I speak of well qualified and faithful teachers,
and am sure that the foregoing statement in regard to them will
not be denied by any candid and intelligent person. The school
laws of this and other states have been framed, apparently, with
a singular unmindfulness of the pecuniary rights of teachers, and
it is a subject of sincere congratulation that so important a step
has been taken in the right direction, by our late legislature.
The files of this ofiice show innumerable instances of long and
vexatious delays, and other wrongs and hardships endured by
teachers in obtaining payment for services rendered, in conse-
quence of the lack of necessary legal provisions in their behalf.
In hundreds of instances they have been obliged to wait for
months, and not unfrequently for years, for the settlement of their
claims, and at last, after being deprived so long of their just dues,
have been compelled to accept the principal only, without any
interest at all, as a partial compensation for the delay and depri-
vation. Hereafter, the moment a schedule is audited by the
trustees, in April or October, and filed with the treasurer, it com-
mences, if unpaid, and any balance unpaid, to draw interest at
the rate of ten per cent, per annum ; and to the prompt liquida-
tion of such unpaid schedules, or any unpaid part thereof, with •
the addition of the accrued interest, school directors, trustees and
treasurers, are enjoined in the most positive terms. Said bal-
ances, with interest as aforesaid, are furthermore declared to be
preferred claims against the district, and must be j^aid out of the
first moneys coming into- the hands of the township treasurer, and
not otherwise specifically appropriated.



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 103

REMARKS ON AMENDMENTS TO SECTION 57.

The important change in this section is the legalizing of loans
by township treasurers, at a rate of interest less than ten per cent,
per annum, in cases where it is found impossible to obtain ten per
cent. Prior to this amendment loans at a less rate than ten per
cent, were peremptorily forbidden ; the language was, "the rate
of interest shall be ten per cent, per annum ;" and, under the op-
eration of that prohibition, vast amounts of the principal of the
township school fund have, during the past few years, remained
idle and unproductive ; it being found impracticable, in many
portions of the state, for reasons familiar to all, to invest the school
fund at ten per cent. All former provisions in respect to the
time for which loans may be made, the amount and (character of
the securities required, etc., remain unchanged, with the exception
hereafter to be noted ; and, with the law as it now stands, town-
ship treasurers will understand that no action of the board of trus-
tees is necessary to authorize them to loan at ten per cent. That
being the maximum rate allowed by law, treasurers may continue
to make loans at that rate as heretofore, whenever practicable.
But no loans can be effected at a rate of interest less than ten per
cent, without the official approval of the board of trustees. When-
ever the township treasurer reports to the board that he has on
hand a portion of the principal of the town fund, which he is un-
able to invest at ten per cent., it will be the duty of said board,
at any regular or special meeting, to fix and determine the re-
duced rate at which said funds may be loaned, and to instruct the
treasurer accordingly; and, until such action of the board is had,
the township treasurer cannot assume the responsibility of accept-
ing a less rate of interest than ten per cent.; nor can any rate,
less than ten per cent., be legally determined without the approv-
al of at least a majority of the board of trustees. It will be ob-
served that this amendment is made retro active, so as to cover
all loans heretofore made by school officers in accordance with
the instructions of the late state superintendent, so that all loans
made, under such instructions, at a rate of interest less than ten
per cent., are therefore legal and valid, the same as if made under
the provisions of the amendatory act. As the financial troubles
of the country have mostly ceased, with the close of the war, it is
believed that it will not hereafter be difficult to make all loans at
ten per cent.



104: SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, WITH

This section, as amended, also authorizes the loaning of town-
ship funds to boards of school directors, taking as security district
bonds made and issued as prescribed in the forty- ser en tli section
of the act. Such loans can, of course, only be made to directors
in their corporate capacity. This is the only change made in re-
spect to the character of the securities which township treasurers
are authorized to receive ; and it is believed that the exception
made in favor of boards of directors will subserve the public in-
terest and convenience in an eminent degree. Bonds issued by
school directors to secure the payment of money borrowed un-
der the" provisions of this section, must be made payable to the
board of trustees of the proper township, in their corporate name
and style. As the whole taxable property of a district is virtually
pledged for the redemption of the bonds so issued, no security
could be more ample and sure; and it is therefore anticipated
that this class of loans will soon be sougbt by township trustees
in preference to others. The attention of township trustees is in-
vited to the expediency of discouraging short loans, as far as prac-
ticable. Loans on short time may, of course, under some circum-
stances, be necessary, but it is obvious that, other things being
equal, the longer the period for whicb loans are made the greater
will be the net profits to the township. Township treasurers are
required in the most express terms, to keep the principal of the
township fund constantly at interest; they cannot, without a
breach of obligation, for which they are liable on their bonds,
keep any portion of said principal on hand, if in their power to
loan the same, at any rate of interest now allowed by law. The
question has frequently been submitted to this department, wheth-
er township funds may be invested in government bonds, or in
war bonds, or other bonds issued by county, township, or other
local authorities. The only answer that I am authorized to make
to sucb inquiries is, that the school law does not authorize such
investments ; the section of the act under review prescribes the
only mode and conditions of loaning school funds.

EEMAKKS ON" AMENDMENTS TO SECTION 63.

Boards of school directors have been much embarrased, in mak-
ing their annual estimates for school purposes, from not knowing
the actual condition of their respective accounts on the books of
the township treasurer. For lack of this information they have



OFIFCIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 105

sometimes caused a heavier tax to be levied than was necessary,
and at other times the levy made has proved too small for the
current expenses of the schools, and thus they have found them-
selves, at the end of the term or year, without the expected means
of meeting their liabilities. In some instances boards of directors
have been thus in the dark in regard to the exact condition of
their financial a£fairs for several years in succession, entailing
much needless delay and perplexity upon them and their credit-
ors. To correct this state of things, it is now made the duty of
township treasurers -to settle semi-annually with each board of di-
rectors in their respective townships. It 'will hereafter be the
right of each board of directors to demand, and the duty of town-
ship treasurers to furnish, on the first Mondays of April and Oc-
tober of every year, a certified written statement or exhibit, show-
ing the exact condition of the account of each district, and the
amount of funds of every description in their hands, as shown by
their books to the credit of and belonging to each district respect-
ively. The statement here required, must be duly certified and
signed by the township treasurei- in his official capacity, and will
furnish a safe and reliable basis upon which the directors may
proceed in making up their estimates, and arranging their plans
for the support and continuance of schools.

REMARKS ON SECTION 6Q, AS AMENDED.

The object of the legislature in the revision of this section is
two-fold. First: To define what shall constitute the permanent
principal of the township and county funds respectively, and to
forbid the distribution, diminution,- or alienation of said principal
or any part thereof, in any manner whatever; and Second: To
require the regular distribution of the entire interest and pro-
ceeds of said principals respectively, and to forbid the carrying of
said interest, rents and profits, or any part thereof, to the princi-
pal of the respective funds. These objects are fully accomplished
by the language of this section as amended, since it removes all
ambiguity, and effectually guards against the error, entertained
by some, that a portion of the interest and other proceeds annu-
ally accruing, might, under some circumstances, be considered as
surplus and added to the principal of the proper fund. The law
plainly declares that the entire proceeds accruing from the princi-



106 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLLNTOIS, WITH

pal of the county and township funds, must be regularly distribu-
ted for the support of schools.

BEMAJtKS OSr SECTION 67, AS A:y:ENDED.

This section, as amended, prescribes more clearly than before
the rules by which township treasurers are to be governed in pay-
ing out funds. The substance of the whole section is. First :
That no funds in the hands of township treasurers to the credit
of districts can be paid out, except upon orders, duly drawn, and
signed by the directors of the proper district, or by their presi-
dent and clerk ; and Second : That, where there are funds in the
hands of a township treasurer to the credit of a district, all orders,
when legally drawn and signed by the proper board of directors
or its officers, as aforesaid, must be promptly honored and paid.
Funds coming into the hands of township treasurers for the bene-
fit of districts, are of two classes, viz : First : the interest, rents,
and profits of the township fund, and the state and county fund
received from the county superintendent; Second: funds accru-
ing from special taxes levied by orders of school directors, and
funds arising from the sale of property belonging to school dis-
tricts. The funds embraced in the former class must pass through
the hands of the township ti'ustees, and be by them apportioned
to the respective districts, before said funds become subject to the
order of the directors. The funds embraced in the latter class do
not pass under the control of the township trustees, and are not
subject to apportionment or distribution by them, but are paid di-
rectly to the township treasurer, to be by him immediately placed
subject to the orders of the proper board of directors.

EEMAEKS ON SECTION 71, AS ASIENDED.

The commissions of three per cent, upon the amount of sales of
school lands, and of two per cent, upon the amount of all sums
paid or loaned out by county superintendents for the support of
schools, are not changed by the amendments to this section ; but
all of said commissions are still allowed by law, and may be re-
tained, as heretofore. In addition to said commissions for selling
school lands, and for distributing, paying out, and loaning school
funds, county superintendents are also entitled by this section as
amended, to the sum of three dollars per day, for any number of
days not exceeding two hundi'ed in any one year, for their educa-



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 107

tional services as county superintendents. Among the duties, for
the performance of which it is the intention of the law to author-
ize county superintendents to receive the per diem of three dol-
lars, may be mentioned the following: visiting and superintend-
ing schools ; examining teachers ; organizing and conducting
teachers' institutes ; hearing and determining complaints and con-
troversies submitted to them under the school law; preparing and
tabulating official reports, etc. In brief, compensation is allowed,
at the rate of three dollars per day, for all duties and services le-
gitimately connected with the office of county superintendent,
and required by law of county superintendents, and performed
by them according to law ; except such duties and services as are
required and performed in connection with the sale of school
lands, and the distribution, loaning and paying out of school
funds. For these latter services, compensation is provided in the
form of commissions. The per diem account is to be rendered
semi-annually, and must be certified and sworn to by the county
superintendent; and when so rendered, certified and sworn to,
said account must be paid, semi-annually, from the county treas-
ury, as the accounts of other county officers are paid ; instead of
being retained from the school fund as heretofore. By this
change over fifty thousand dollars are saved to the school fund
annually, and the taxes necessary for school purposes are propor-
tion ably lessened. This is in harmony with the spirit of the
whole free school system, which seeks at all points to protect the
school fund, and must command the approbation of all friends of
public education.

The law does not fix the number of hours' service for which
the per diem of three dollars shall be received ; but the nature of
the service to be rendered, and the circumstances under which it
must, in most cases, be performed, are such as to warrant the
conclusion that the term "day," in this section may properly be
considered, (in case the point is raised), as identical in duration
with the school day of teachers, and as generally known and re-
cognized in the school law, namely, six hours. The correctness
of this view will appear from the fact that public schools are in
session but six hours a day, and hence a county superintendent
could not spend a greater length of time in school visitation in
in any one day, while his claim to the legal per diem for such
day's visitation, is unquestionable. But it is not probable that



108 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, WITH

the technical point of what constitues a "day," in the sense of
this statute, will be raised. The common custom of the country
in such cases is well understood, and will govern, unless objection
is made. Where the compensation authorized bj this section is
deemed insufficient, it is further provided that county courts or
boards of supervisors may, at their discretion, increase the same
by additional appropriations, and I cannot too earnestly recom-
mend that the compensation of every good and efficient superin-
tendent be in this manner increased so as to enable him to give
his whole time to the schools of his county.

As elsewhere stated, I labored earnestly with the committees
on education, and with other members of the late legislature, to
obtain a still greater advance in the compensation of county
superintendents, believing, as I ever have, that the prosperity of
the schools depends in a great measure upon faithful county su-
pervision, and that no school officers known to our system have
heretofore been so poorly remunerated, in proportion to the
amount and value of service rendered, as county superintendents.
I rejoice that a step, at least, has been taken in the right direc-
tion, and hopefully anticipate the time when full justice will be
done to these faithful and devoted school officers. It is no argu-
ment against the wisdom and justice of this amendment to say
that there may be county superintendents who are incompetent
and unfaithful, and who cannot or will not earn the compensa-
tion allowed by law. It is enough to reply that the utter insuf-
ficiency of the remuneration heretofore .allowed, has been a
principal cause of incompetent superintendents, if such there
are ; and that the only safe and just rule in the regulation of sal-
aries is to consider how much the services required by law ought
to command, when such services are ably and efficiently per-
formed ; leaving it to the people to see that the right persons are
chosen for the office.

KEMAKKS ON SECTION T2, AS AMENDED.

The commissions of township treasurers remain unchanged,
but township trustees are peremptorily required to make a suita-
ble allowance to their treasurers, annually, for their clerical ser-
vices. This provision was contained in the old law, but I have
reason to believe that it was not generally complied with. It is
now re-enacted in more express terms, and boards of trustees are



OFFIOIAX AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 109

enjoined not to neglect to set apart a reasonable sum from the
township fund, each year, as a compensation for the services ren-
dered by treasurers as clerks of their respective boards. If the
books and records are kept in a proper manner, (and it is the
duty of the trustees to see that they are so kept,) the time and
labor required of treasurers are such as justly to entitle them to a
liberal compensation, and such compensation cannot be vrithheld
without a plain violation of law, for which the wronged party has
redress.

Whatever doubt may have existed heretofore in respect to the
claim of county treasurers to a per centage upon school taxes
collected and paid over to them by county or township collect-


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

Online Librarystatutes Illinois. LawsSchool laws of Illinois → online text (page 12 of 26)