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Letter Fulton High School, Ai, Ohio

Centralization of Fulton Township Schools,

Old & New Buildings
Brief Account of Its Growth in Fulton Township
Excerpts from article in Fulton Co. Tribune in 1908 by W. L. Bruelhman

      Fulton township was more fortunate than most townships in not having an issue as to the location of the central school.    The school house of sub-district No. 2, known as the Ai school, was situated almost exactly at the geographical center of the township.    This was a two story, two room building, and it maintained a graded school with two teachers in charge.    With the decline of the village of Ai the school enumeration became gradually smaller; consequently the attendance was not as large as could be coveniently accommodated.    When in the spring of 1903, the teacher of the adjoining district to the west, No. 3, resigned about two months before the school term was completed, the board of education made arrangements for the transportation of the pupils of the Ai school.

      Since the conveyance for this purpose had to be constructed on very short notice, it presented a rather crude appearance.    Besides continuing the transportation of this first school, the board of education also made arrangements for extending the experiment by conveying the school in district No. 8 the following school year of 1903-1904.    They made arrangements with the board of trustees for the use of the town hall, which is conveniently situated on a lot adjacent to the one on which the schoolhouse at Ai stands.    They also secured the permission to divide the town hall into two rooms by means of a partition.    They then proceeded to suspend the schools in sub-districts, No. 4, 5 and 7 in addition to those previously suspended, and ordered wagons to be built for the purpose of conveying them to the central school the coming year.    Four teachers were engaged including a superintendent, and a recognized high school was established.   Since that time an additional teacher has been provided, making the whole number at present engaged five.    An extra room was secured for this purpose by dividing the second floor of the original building into two rooms.

      School had scarcely been organized the following autumn when the schoolhouse in District No. 1 was damaged one day by a severe storm, to such an extent that it was no longer safe for school purposes.    The board at once furnished conveyance also for this school to the central school.    This left but one district in the township in which the district school was still maintained.    This was District No. 9.    It was also suspended the following year, 1906, thus making centralization complete in Fulton township.

      As might be reasonably expected under the circumstances the faction that was opposed to centralization at once took action to undo the work of the board.   It was the beginning of a long drawn-out legal fight which most people in Fulton county are at least partly familiar.    After an unsuccessful attempt had been made to set apart a portion of the township as a special distract, the matter was taken up with the common pleas court, in a petition asking for an injunction against the board of education.    Among a number of issues the chief one was the question of legality of centralization as established by the board of education.    Although the case was afterward appealed to the circuit court and then again to the supreme court of Ohio, the authority of the board of education to centralize as they did was never questioned by any court.    The result of the whole process of litigation was that the board in the end won out on every point at issue.

      To any one not familiar with the circumstances the action of the board might have the appearance of high-handed usurpation of authority.    In justice to the board it is necessary to explain that they felt justified in pursuing the course they did for several reasons:    1st centralization had been partly established before the election was taken.    2nd. They were elected on that issue.    3rd. The power they exercised was conferred upon them by law.    4th. As members of a board of education they felt it their sacred duty to give the children in their charge the best possible educational advantages.    Furthermore, the members of this board were themselves some of the heaviest tax payers of the township.    Therefore, it could not be charged against them that they were imposing upon others taxes whose burdens they did not share themselves.

      That centralization grows in favor in proportion as the people have the opportunity to become acquainted with its merits is evidenced by the fact that in our election in the fall of 1907 the voters of Fulton township elected, by a large majority, two new members of the board of education who were openly pledged to carry out the policy of their predecessors in continuing the centralized system of schools.    One of these new members had voted against centralization and the bond issue in the first election and is now one of the most zealous advocates of the new system.

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Fulton Centralized School, Ai,Fulton County, Ohio School Photos
Last updated July 22, 2001
Web page copyright 2001 by Charles Paul Keller

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