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when three trustees were chosen. "Within ten (10) days after an
election the trustees elect must meet and draw lots for their re-
spective terms of office. The manner of drawing lots is prob-



SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, WITH 61

ably familiar to all. Three cards or slips of paper, of uniform size
land shape, are prepared, on one of which are written the words,
i^^one year\'''' on another, " two years f and on the third, '■'■three
\yeaTsP The writing should be clear and distinct, to avoid mis-
jtake or disagreement. The slips of paper are then folded sepa.
rately, and placed in a box, or hat, when each trustee elect pro-
ceeds to draw forth on© of the cards or slips, and hands it to the
clerk of the board, who reads aloud the words written thereon.
The trustee who draws the card marked " one year " holds his of-
fice for one year ; the trustee who draws the card marked " two
years " holds his office for two years ; and the trustee who draws
the card marked " three years " holds his office for three years.

There are many other modes of drawing lots, which need not
be described ; the method suggested is one of the most common
and simple. Any mode may be adopted which will carry out
the intention of the law, which is to determine the respective
terms of office strictly by lot, or chance, without design or parti-
ality. As soon as the term of each trustee is decided, the clerk
of the board must see that the same is duly recorded in the book
of proceedings, as evidence of the fact.

The amendment provides that if but two of the trustees elect
shall be present at the meeting for the drawing of lots, said two
trustees shall proceed to draw lots, the same as if all were pres-
ent, and that the lot not drawn shall determine and fix the term
of office of the remaining trustee. The object of this is to avoid
delay, and to prevent any one member elect from hindering the
organization of the board, and defeating the intention of the law,
by neglecting or refusing to attend the meeting. It is plain that
the rule prescribed by the amendment is just and right, for the
three cards or slips must be put in the box, the same as if all the
members were present, and after two of said slips have been
drawn the remaining one must neccessarily decide the tenure of
the third trustee. When but two of the trustees are present at
the drawing, as aforesaid, it will be the duty of the clerk to record
the term of office of the absent member, after it shall have been
determined as aforesaid, as well as the term of the two who are
present ; and said record shall be final and conclusive.

The respective terms of office of the trustees having been de-
termined, one trustee will thereafter be elected annually — the
trustees retiring in one, two and three years, respectively, accord-



62 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLIXOIS, WITH

ing to tlie lot drawn by eacli one. The notice of each subsequent
annual election of one trustee, must be in the form i^rescribecl by
law, and should also designate, by name, the trustee whose term
expires, and whose place is to be filled by said election, and the
length of time for which the new trustee is to be elected. In case
of vacancy, by removal, resignation or death, the trustee elected:
to fill such vacancy, can onlv hold his ofiice for the imexpired
term of the member whom he succeeds.

EE ^fA KES ox AiIEND:yi:XT TO SECTIOX 25,

The election of trustees having been changed from three, bi-
ennially, to one, annually, this section is amended by substitutino-
the latter word for the former, so that it shall conform to the facts
in the case. This section is further amended by the very impor-
tant proviso, that if the township trustees, or their treasurer, shaR
fail or refuse to order the regular election of trustees, or an elec-
tion to fill vacancies, the duty of ordering such regular or special
election shall devolve upon the county sui3erintendent. The ob-
ject of this provision is to put an end to the practice of suffering
elections of trustees to go by default, thus perpetuating the same
board from year to year, and in some cases almost from age to
age, to the great detriment of the interests of the schools and
school funds. Heretofore, such self-perpetuation has been both
easy and frequent; it was only necessary for the trustees, or treas-
urer, to let the time of election go by, without giving the required
notice, and as no other officer was authorized to order the election
none would be held, and the old boai-d would continue in office ano-
ther term, when the same thing would occur again, and so on for a
series of years. It is true that the trustees were hable to be pro-
ceeded against and fined for failing to discharge the duties enjoined
upon them by law, but this mode of redress was troublesome and
rarely resorted to, and so, practically, many boards of trustees have '
been, literally, incuinbents at vnll. The amendment furnishes the
needed corrective of this chronic evil and abuse. "When the time
for the stated election of trustees arrives, and the board fail or re-
fuse to give the required notices, (through the township treas-
urer,) the fact should be made known to the county superinten-
dent whose duty it will then be to order the election. And if a
vacancy occm-s in the board, and the remaining trustees shall fail
or refuse to order an election to fill such vacancy, it likewise be-



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 63

comes the duty of the county superintendent, upon being appris-
ed of the fact, to order the election.

County superintendents are urged to a prompt performance of
the duties enjoined upon them by this amendment. They are to
see that any neglect on the part of township officers in respect to
j school elections, is remedied without delay. They are to cause
it to be understood that there must be an election of trustees at
the stated time, annually^ and not once in five, ten or twenty
I years, and that if this matter is not attended to by the trustees,
j it will be attended to by the county superintendent. The law
! in relation to the election and tenure of trustees is as plain and
as binding as any other part of the act, and must be observed
ac'cordingly. If it had been the intention to allow trustees to or-
der elections when they pleased, or not to order them at all un-
less they pleased, or to continue themselves in office as long as
they pleased, the legislature would have so enacted. But as no
such discretion is given in the law, none can be allowed in prac-
tice. When, through default of township officers, elections are
ordered by county superintendents, the latter will be careful to
see that the notices, and all other proceedings connected with
said elections are in due form of law ; and it is of great moment
that the poll book, and certificate of the judges, should be in
proper form, and delivered to the county superintendent without
delay. ^Neglect of this has caused a vast amount of difficulty.
As the poll book, with the certificate, constitutes the legal evi-
dence of election, the county superintendent must see, in all cases,
that they are carefully filed and preserved.

KEMAEKS ON SECTION 32, AS AMENDED.

The principal amendment to this section is in respect to the
tenure of office of the president of the board. Under the old
law the president held his office during the period for which the
board was elected, viz : two years ; but this is obviously impracti-
cable under the new provisions relative to the election and ten-
ure of trustees, because the member appointed president may be,
and is always liable to be, the one who holds the shortest, or one-
year term, and consequently cannot serve for two years, even if
appointed for that period. It is obvious that no detriment to the
interests of the board can grow out of this reduction of the term
of the president to one year, since, if he prove an efficient and ac-



64: SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLI370IS, WITH

ceptable officer, lie may be re-appointed from year to year, and
wLen liis term of service as trustee expires he may be re-elected
and again appointed president, if desired. On the other hand, if ^
the member appointed president should prove incompetent or in-
efficient, a change may be made a year sooner than was formerly]
practicable without an act of remova]. •

It will be observed that stated meetings must be held on the
fii'st Mondays of April and October, and that special meetings!
may be convened as often as the educational interests of the
townships may require. Of all meetings of the board, whether
stated or special, every member of the board should have due
and timely notice, but any official business of the board may be
legally transacted by any two members thereof. Every newl]
elected board of trustees should organize, by the appointment oi|
a president and clerk, without unnecessary delay, as business re-
quiring the official signatures of those officers may, at any time,
arise. The president and clerk should be appointed with the
greatest care, and with sole reference to their fitness for the du-
ties of their respective positions. The president should be a man
of good judgment, punctual habits, and well acquainted with the
inhabitants and business affairs of the tov^mship. In appointing
their treasurer, the board should reflect, that to his financial abil-
ity and integrity, all the pecuniary interests of the corporation are
intrusted, and that no motive can therefore justify them in know-
ingly appointing to that important position a man destitute of
those essential qualities. Many of the losses incurred, and diffi-
culties encountered, in the management of the business and finan-
cial affairs of townships, are directly traceable to the lack of prop-
er caution in the selection of township treasurer. In addition to
his business qualification's and thorough trustworthiness of char-
acter, he should also, if possible, be a good penman, and familiar
with the keeping of records and other official proceedings. The
absence of these latter qualities is always to be regretted, and es-
pecially in a position like this, where so much depends upon ac-
curacy and system. The records of the board are moreover a
public record, to be always ready for public inspection ; and con-
siderations of taste and laudable pride should prompt the trustees
to see that their official records and papers are in competent
hands. It must be borne in mind that the person appointed
treasurer cannot be either a member of the board of trustees or a



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 65

school director ; slioiild tliis rule of the law be violated, such ap-
pointment would be void, (although the official records would not
thereby be invalidated,) and another appointment must be made
in conformity with the provisions of the act. In the absence of
the president or clerk, the persons filling those positions, for the
time being, should be careful to sign all official papers and pro-
ceedings, as president or clerk "jp/'o tempore.''''

For any malfeasance or misfeasance in office, the president or
clerk should be promptly and unhesitatingly removed by the
board, as authorized by law. It is the especial duty of the clerk
to be regular and punctual in his attendance at every meeting of
the board, and he should be chosen with reference to his ability
to comply with the law in this respect. I would most earnestly
call the attention of boards of township trustees to the necessity
of providing good and well bound books, in which to record their
official proceedings. Such books are to be paid for out of the
school funds of the township, and failure to procure such as are
suitable is therefore entirely inexcusable — to such failure innu-
merable difficulties and misunderstandings are attributable.

REMAKES ON SECTION 83, AS AMENDED.

The first point to be noticed in this section, as amended, is the
removal of the restriction imposed by former legislation, relative
to the minimum number of school districts, and the maximum
extent of the territory of each of such districts, within a given
township. By an act passed February 22, 1861, and which was
in force until the passage of this amendatory act, February 16,
1865, it was provided that there should be at least two school
districts in every organized township, otherwise the taxes levied
therein for school purposes were illegal and void. It was farther
provided in said act that no land, real estate or personal property
could be legally taxed to build or repair a school house, or to sup-
port a free school, unless such realty or personalty lay within
three miles of the proposed site of the house to be built, or within
the same distance of the house to be repaired, or of the house or
place where the school to be supported was actually kept.

Under the operation of that act no township could be organized
into a single district for school purposes, or, which was practi-
cally the same thing, no school taxes could be legally levied or
collected in a township so organized; and in like manner all
—6



GQ SCHOOL LAWS OP ILLLXOIS, WITH

townships which had previously been so organized, were obliged
to re-organize in conformity with that act, in order to retain the
necessary authority to levy and collect school taxes. As trustees
are expressly authorized by this (33d) section, as amended, to lay
oif their respective townships " into 07ie or more districts ;" and as
the last section of the amendatory act under consideration re-
peals "all acts and parts of acts coming in conflict with the pro-
visions of this act," it follows that the prohibitory act of Febru-
ary 22, 1861, is repealed and void, being in direct conflict with
the provisions of this section, as amended.

The way is therefore open for the formation in each township
of school districts of such territorial extent as may be deemed
most convenient and beneficial, without reference to the number
of miles that the boundaries of said districts may be from the
school house or school. The township trustees have discretion
as to the number of districts that they will form ; it may be "one,
or more." If it is the desire of a majority of the inhabitants, and
in accordance with their own judgment, to have but one school
district in the township, they may lawfully organize and consti-
tute the entire township into a single schooh district. The prin-
ciple applies both to the original organization of the districts of a
township, and to subsequent charges in said districts ; that is, the
trustees may establish but ' one district when they first establish
any ; or they may consolidate into one district all the districts
previously established in the township — they have the same dis-
cretion in both cases.

In the practical exercise of the very important authority con-
ferred by this amendment, trustees should be cautious and pru-
dent, carefully considering the wishes and convenience of the
people concerned, and acting with sole reference to the best inte-
rests of the schools of the township regarded as a whole. "While
they should not hastily disturb existing district organizations, or
for trivial causes, they should not hesitate to do so where it is
clear that a better class of schools, can be established, and the
o-eneral educational interests of the township be better promoted
by such a course. It is probably true that in the majority of
townships it is best that there should be, under our present school
system, several school districts, but it is equally true that many
instances exist in which the consolidation of all the districts of a
township would be highly beneficial.



OFFICIAL AND JUDICIAL DECISIONS. Q7

Some of the very best school districts in the state have hereto-
fore been so organized. One of the chief excellencies of such
consolidation is, that it at once makes practicable a thorough and
judicious system of grading, which is a fundamental condition of
the best class of schools. It permits the establishment of a high
school at or near the center, and of intermediate and primary
schools at convenient points throughout the township, thus form-
ing a complete and efficient system of schools for the township.
Nor is it true, as is supposed by some, that the burdens of taxa-
tion will fall unequally in the case of such large districts ; it is in
fact simply the adoption, in such cases, of the township system
of school districts — a system that can be proven to be immeasura-
bly superior to any other, in all the essential elements of econ-
omy, simplicity and vigor. It sweeps away the numberless irri-
tations incident to the changes of district boundaries — the addi-
tions and subtractions of territory — the alternate divisions and
consolidations of districts. It reduces the number of corporations
in each township, from a half score, or more, to one ; and abolishes
a proportional amount of useless machinery and unnecessary offi-
ces. It substitutes a uniform rate of taxation, for as many differ-
ent rates as there are districts in the township. It requires the
strong to help the weak, and the weak to help the strong, and so
equalizes all burdens, and strengthens an(^ invigorates the whole.
While the property of the sparsely settled rural districts is taxed
to build the costly house and to support the expensive school of
the populous center, or town, or village — the property of the latter
is also taxed in the same ratio to meet the wants of the former.
Each portion of the township has an interest in every other por-
tion, and there can be no conflict of interests. The schools of the
township are for all, open to ail, and located with sole reference
to the convenience of all. The children attend whatever school
is of the proper grade and most accessible. The whole school
population of the township pass regularly forward through the
primary, intermediate and grammar schools, on to the high
school, and thus complete their course of common school training
harmoniously, economically and successfully; and that, too, at
home, under the Avatchful care of their parents and friends, a
blessing which cannot be estimated.

For an amendment which brings these advantages within the
reach of every township that chooses to have them, we cannot be



68 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, WITH



too thankful. It will prove of inestimable value to all townships
that will avail themselves of its privileges and make thorough
trial of its benefits. The simple and comprehensive principle
established bj this amendment, renders nnnecessary nine-tenths
of the special acts of school incorporation passed bj everv legis -
lature, including many enacted by the late general assembly,
"When boards of trustees desire to exercise the discretion conferred
by this amendment, it will only be necessary for them to change
the map of their township to correspond with the consolidation
of districts, or with the organization of the whole township into
one district, as the case may be, and file said map, so changed and
duly certified, with the clerk of the county court. Township
trustees cannot be too caretul to see that all changes of district
boundaries are promptly and accurately recorded by their treas-
urer, and reported to the county clerk. Inattention to this duty
has caused much unnecessary annoyance and extra labor to county
clerks, and often resulted in the loss to districts of the taxes
necessary to carry on the schools.

It will be observed that the language of the amendment re-
specting the formation of school districts out of parts of two or
more townships or fractional townships is, that the trustees of
schools of the townships interested shall '•'•concur''' in the forma-
tion of such districts.. Prior to this amendment trustees were
required to "<7cz! in conjunction''' in such cases. The language of
the amendment is much more perspicuous, and fitly expresses
what was undoubtedly the intention of the law, even prior to the
change. Many have supposed that districts, com^Dosed of parts
of two or more townships, could not be legally established unless
the trustees of the respective townships literally acted in con-
junction, i. e. met together, and in joint session consummated the
organization of such districts. It will now be clearly understood
that the concurrence only of the respective boards, is required ;
the subject may be separately considered and acted upon by each
board concerned, at their respective places of meeting, and, if the
proposition is agreed to, or concm-red in by each board, the re-
quirements of the law are satisfied. The only restriction is that
such action must be had by the respective boards at a regular ses-
sion.

The remaining amendments to this section relate to the forma-
tion of new districts, and the proper apportionment of school



OFFICIAL AJSTD JUDICIAL DECISIONS. 69

funds and property to the respective districts concerned. Tlie
first point to be noticed in this connection is the very important
one, that hereafter no division of school funds or property is to be
made unless an entire new district is organized. Heretofore such
division was required when a portion of territory was detached
from one district and joined to another, although no new district
was thereby constituted. Hereafter no distribution of school
funds or property will be required in such cases. It is believed
that this ]3ro vision is just and proper, and it is certain that it will
prevent much difficulty and misunderstanding. It is just and
equitable, because, when a portion of territory is cut off from
one district and added to another, the district receiving such ac-
cession of territory is permanently benefited by such increase of
its taxable property, and therefore has no just claim, in addition,
to any share of the funds or value of the property remaining in
the other district ; while on the other hand, the district which
surrenders a portion of its territory, is thereby permanently de-
prived of the benefit of the taxes formerly received from the tax-
able property so given up, and, as a partial equivalent for the
loss, it is right that such district should be allowed to retain the
funds or taxes that have accrued from the territory set off. Even
with the present amendment the advantage in such cases is largely
and permanently on the side of the district receiving the acces-
sion of territory, although the present rule of action is much more
equitable than the former one. These facts must be distinctly
borne in mind, by the districts concerned, in all future transac-
tions of this kind.

JSTew districts in organized townships can only be formed in
three ways — first, by the division of one district into two or more
districts ; second, by the formation of another district out of parts
of two or more districts, and third, by the consolidation of two or
more districts into one. In either of the two former cases the
division of taxes and other funds is to be made upon the basis of
the amount of taxes collected on the property remaining in each
district. But the school property, such as school houses, etc., is
to be appraised, and the value apportioned among the several
claimants on the basis of the amount of taxable property remain-
ing in each district after the formation of such new districts. The
new law is very stringent in requiring a.]?ro7ivpt division of funds
and apportionment of the value of school property. The tax



70 SCHOOL LAWS OF ILLINOIS, W^ITH

funds on hand are to be divided immediately, at the time the new
district is formed ; snch division is in fact to form a part of the
official transactions connected with the organization of the new
district. And all taxes or other funds, due and payable at the time
of snch new organization, but not yet received, must be divided
without delay or default as soon as received. It is also the duty
of the board or boards of trustees concerned, to appraise the
school property at the time that a new district or districts are
formed, and to apportion the appraised value thereof to the
respective districts upon the basis required by law ; and to order
their respective treasurers forthwith to place the several amounts,
so apportioned, upon their books to the credit of flie proper dis-
tricts. The appraisal and apportionment of the estimated value
of school proj^erty should, as I have just said, always be done at
once — at the time the new district or districts are formed. By
the provisions of the amendment it must be done within three
months from the formation of such new district, or it cannot law-
fully be done at all. There is no need of protracted delay ; very



Online Librarystatutes Illinois. LawsSchool laws of Illinois → online text (page 8 of 26)