Richburg School History

  • 1. Old School - 1925 
    In the past twenty-two years we have seen the beginning and continuous growth or Central Rural Schools in the rural districts of New York State. The primary objective of these Central schools has been to give the rural youth of New York State a more equitable educational program in comparison with the educational advantages of youth in the city districts. The small community of Richburg feels proud that they were pioneers in the Central School movement, the second Central School in Allegany County and the nineteenth Central School in New York State. We, also, feel happy knowing that we have been able to give the youth of our community for twenty-one years the many advantages that a Central Rural School affords. In the year of our Lord 1925, the year preceding the centralization, found an inadequate wooden structure school building which was unsuitable for accommodating the one hundred and fifty-eight pupils then attending the Richburg Union Free School. Of these one hundred and fifty-eight pupils, fifty-eight were in high school and one hundred in grades one through eight. A total of seven teachers, four for grades and three for high school comprised the faculty of the Richburg Union Free School in 1925-26. This would be considered an understaffed faculty today. Because of the condition existing in the school at this time it was decided that the district needed a better school for the youth of their community. In March 1925 at a meeting of the Board of Education, an architect was designated to draft tentative plans for a new Union Free School building, which were to be presented to the Board as soon as they were ready. In August 1925, at a special meeting of the Board of Education, a contract was signed with A. W. E. Schoenberg of Olean as architect for the new school building. At a special meeting of the legal voters of Richburg Union Free School, on the 15th day of September the voters of the district authorized the Board of Education to cause plans and specifications to be prepared and to proceed with the erection of a new school house on the present site owned by the school district. The Board of Education, at that time, consisted of: Floyd Saunders, President; Howard Thomson, Frank Owens, Clarence Allen, Claire Miller, James S. Johnston and clerk, Alice Woodard. After bids had been submitted and contracts let, the ground work for the new school was started in March 1926. As the new building progressed, the Board of Education began to discuss the possibility of taking advantage of the new Central School State Aid law passed by the New York State legislature in 1925, provided that they could interest enough rural districts to consolidate with them. It was believed that by forming a central rural school district, Richburg and the surrounding community stood to gain considerably more financial aid from the State and at the same time would be able to offer a much better educational program than could be offered in a Union Free School.
     
    With this thought in mind the School Board organized committees to contact the voters of the proposed Central district, to explain the advantages to be gained through centralization and answer questions relative to the plan. Throughout the history of the Richburg Centralization it has always been the plan of the Board of Education to present the matter as a business proposition showing that the advantages outweighed the disadvantages, with no pressure brought to bear on any rural district consid¬ering centralizing. All the Board members, who have taken part in the centralization, should be commended highly for the way in which they attained a reality-the Richburg Central School. As a result of this business-like procedure the following common school districts, Nos. 2 (Pine Grove), 5 (Wirt Center), 7 (Cottrell), 8 (Pleasant Valley), 10 (Dimmick) of the town of Virt, and Union Free School district No.1 of the towns of Wirt and Bolivar, at a meeting on June 29, 1926, voted and organized as a Central Rural School district. The new school district was des¬ignated as Central School District No.1 of the towns of Wirt and Bolivar, Allegany County. The Board of Education chosen by the people to head the new centralization consisted of: Floyd Saunders, president, .I ames S. Johnston, Clarence F. Allen, Herbert L. Wightman and Henry Millis. At the first meeting the new Board appointed Wilfred J. Coyle as the first Principal of the new Central School. Elmer Cowles was appointed clerk and tax collector of the Board and Gerald Wightman, treasurer.

    Inavale School
     
     
    In the first year of centralization, transportation of pupils from outlying districts became an immediate problem. The P. S. & N. R. R. Co. contracted to provide railroad transportation for the pupils from Wirt Center; the train to arrive about 8: 15 and to return at 4:00 P. M. The O. B. S. Traction Co. contracted to furnish transportation for the pupils from the Cottrell district. L. A. Wightman contracted with the Board to furnish transportation for those living in the Dimmick and Pleasant Valley districts. Harold Steiner contracted to provide transportation for the Pine Grove district. During severe winter weather it was necessary to bring the pupils from some sections of the district by horse and sleigh. As early as December 1928 it was found that the new school building lacked sufficient storage space so, an additional room, size 16 x 11 feet to be used for storage, was added to the present building. After many discussions in regard to increasing the educational services, it was decided in August 1928 to initiate business and physical education departments that fall. Seven typewriters were purchased and Priscilla Broadwell was employed as instructor. Miss Iva Jackson was employed as the first physical education instructor.

     
    In January 1929 the people residing in theDimmick School
     Dimmick School district decided to close their school and bring all their pupils to Richburg. This school, al¬though a part of the original centralization, had been kept open for the first six grades. The Board of Education decided in the spring of 1929 that their school enrollment was increasing to such an extent that they should still further increase their educational offerings and as a result it was de¬cided to open music and art departments in the fall. Dorothy LeChien was employed to this position and opened these departments in the Richburg Central School in the fall term" of 1929. At the annual school meeting in August 1929 the School Board was authorized to dispose of the district school houses known as Pine Grove, Wirt Center, Cottrell, and Pleasant Valley. This was the beginning of the loss of identity of the old common school districts in our community. In the state of New York, previous to central rural school districts, there were approximately ten thousand common school districts, however, the increase in central schools to the present time' has cut the number of common school districts more than half. It was decided in the spring of 1930 to employ a man as physical education director full-time. Ira Brown was employed to this position and continued to serve the district well for eleven years.

    The number of pupils from the rural districts were increasing to such an extent that the Board felt that someone should be employed to prepare and serve hot lunches for the youngsters who remained at school for their lunch period. Mrs. Bruce Cornwall was employed to begin this program in October 1930. At the annual meeting in August 1931 the School Board was given permission to sell the Dimmick school building. It was also voted at this meeting that the school district would begin in the fall to furnish free textbooks to all the pupils of the Central District. A dental hygienist, Lucille Hardman, was employed in September 1931 for the first time to clean pupils' teeth. This service was discontinued after the next year and was not revived until the fall of 1945, at which time it was made a part of the pupils' physical examination in the fall of each school year. March 1932 brought the beginning of instrumental music instruction. Mr. Vincent Norton was engaged for this position for two nights a week and practice .sessions were held in what is now known as the Town Hall. Miss Mary Alice Sloan was employed as the first certified Librarian in the spring of 1932 to begin work when school opened that fall. In the spring of 1932 due to increased enrollment and services rendered to the pupils, a serious discussion resulted with relativity to building an addition to the original structure. It was decided to build an addition in the near future. So much interest was shown in instrumental music since its initiation two months previous that the Board deemed it necessary to provide instruments for the participating music pupils. The first instruments bought were bells and a base viol.

    5. Cottrell School 
    At the end of the school year of 1932 the Board of Education discussed the furnishing of transportation in District owned buses. Sales representatives from several companies were called in to discuss the merits of their product. In July of this year it was decided to buy one Studebaker and two Dodge buses. Since there was no District owned garage. at this time, drivers were employed with the understanding that they were to furnish a heated garage for storage of the bus which they were driving. In August 1932 it was decided by the Board to open a Home Economics department and Miss Marion Simpson was engaged as the first homemaking teacher. In as much as there was not sufficient room to accommodate this department, the District purchased the Carl Benjamin residence back of the school, which became the home of the first home¬making classes in the Richburg Central School. Interest in music became so great during the year that it was decided in the spring to hire a full-time instrumental teacher. Philip Austin was engaged as instructor and began work in the fall of 1933 and served well in this position through June 1941. On the 7th day of December 1933 the School Board called a special meeting of the qualified voters of the district to vote on the question of building an addition on the present Central School building in order to properly care for the needs of an expanding school. At this time the voters of the district authorized the Board of Education to purchase the land, owned by Gerald Wightman and Carl Benjamin, adjoining the school and to proceed in building an addition to the present school building for cafeteria, homemaking and necessary classrooms. On October 1933 Mr. Schoenberg was engaged as architect for construction of the addition to the building. Sealed bids were accepted by the end of October and work on the building began immediately. The addition was completed in the spring of 1934. In June 1934 it was decided to engage the services of a part-time school nurse, starting with the fall semester in September. It was at this time that the schools in the State began to feel that there should be a definite time when parents could come to visit school, meet and converse with teachers relative to their child's work. As a result, in October 1934 the Richburg Central School had their first "Parents Night." In January 1935 it was decided by the Board to purchase an additional bus to meet the increasing needs of transportation in the district. This brought the total of district owned buses to four. During the winter of 1935 and from time to time in the next ten years we find the School District purchasing a considerable number of musical instruments, which gave to many pupils the opportunity to learn to play instruments which would have been too expensive for many a family budget. In this field alone, the Central Rural School has done considerable to bring a worthwhile culture of music to the pupils of our school. This objective, to be sure, could never have been done in the former common school district. At a meeting in September 1935 the voters of the Central School District decided to purchase the necessary land for a playground and develop it with the aid of a W. P. A. grant. The grant was made and accepted on November 18, 1935. Work began immediately on the project and it was ready for use the following fall of 1936. In March 1936 it was felt that the work of a part-time school nurse in the District was not sufficient to take care of all the health needs of the Central School, so it was decided to employ a full-time nurse-teacher for the following fall term. On July 14, 1936 the legal voters of the Babcock School District, Wirt No.3, expressed the desire to centralize with Richburg and were accepted. Thus the Babcock district became the first common school to be added to the Richburg Central School since its original inception ten years earlier.

    6. Jordan Hill School

    In August 1936 the Hornell Gas and Light Company offered and were granted permission to install two gas ranges and a refrigerator in the Homemak¬ing Department at no cost to the Board. It was agreed that the equipment was to remain the prop¬erty of the Company who would have the right to substitute new ranges from time to time. This proved to be a very advantageous arrangement for the Central School, as it gave the pupils of the District an opportunity to use modern and up-to-date equipment in their home economics classes. In July 1936 it was decided to purchase a new Brockway thirty-passenger bus which brought the total of District owned buses to five. In August 1936 the Ideal Tile and Marble Company of Olean, was given a contract to tile the boys' shower room. The Messer Oil Corporation, in January 1937, gave a parcel of land. to the school district enabling them to enlarge the new playground considerably. A complete stage lighting installation was purchased for the auditorium in February 1937. In July 1937 a sixty-one passenger Brockway bus was purchased to replace one of the former buses purchas..d by the District. In Feoruary 1938 because of the need of dividing an overcrowded first grade, it was decided to move the Industrial Arts department into the old fire hall across the street from the School. This building still houses the Industrial Arts and Agriculture departments of the Richburg Central School. An order by the District Superintendent of Schools, W. ]. Coyle, on March 31, 1938 dissolved common school district, Wirt No. 11, commonly known as the Cooley district and annexed it to the Richburg Central School effective July 1, 1938. The Board minutes revealed that, in the school year of 1937-38, approximately eighty pupils were served lunches daily. One woman was employed by the school to prepare lunches with students assisting during their free periods. Today, in the school year of 1946-47, three women work full time preparing and serving food for 225 pupils each lunch period. The Home Economics teacher is given time in her daily schedule to supervise the entire lunch program. Government aid has made it possible to provide hot lunches at a very reasonable cost to the pupils.

    7. Bartoo School 

    In the spring of 1938, upon order of the District Superintendent of Schools, W. J. Coyle, the common school districts of Clarksville No.3 and No.4, were dissolved and annexed to the Richburg Central School effective July 1, 1938. These two common schools were called the Smith and Bartoo schools, respectively.


    8. Agriculture Building 

    In July 1938 it was decided to add an agriculture department and Vincent Davis was employed as instructor August the 1st: Mr. Davis still heads this department in the Richburg Central School. The number of pupils enrolled in the last nine years has averaged between fifteen and twenty. During the war years, because of the decrease in the number of boys in high school and the shortage of teachers, Bolivar and Richburg decided to share an Agriculture teacher, so at the present time, Mr. Davis heads the department in both schools. There is a total enrollment of twenty-six pupils in the two schools this year. In as much as one Agriculture teacher could instruct approximately fifty pupils easily, it is perhaps best from an economical standpoint for the two schools to continue this department jointly, for an indefinite period.

    Superintendent W. J. Coyle issued the order for the annexation of common school distrIct No.1, Clarksville, to the Richburg Central School on December 7, 1938.

    In August 1939 the Board of Education authorized Harry E. Goodrich to set a monument in the southeast corner of the school yard to commemorate the first oil well drilled in the Town of Wirt.

    9. West Clarksville School 

    On September 19, 1939 at a special meeting of the legal voters of the Central District, an appropriation of $25,000 was carried by a majority to build a new school at West Clarksville which would accommodate pupils of the first six grades in that community. A combination gymnasium and auditorium were to be included in the plans. Bids were let, construction started and the building was ready for use in the Spring of 1940. It was also decided at this meeting to authorize the Board of Education to rent with the privilege of purchase, a suitable building as a Central School bus garage with the understanding that the rent could be applied on the purchase price. On November 17, 1939 the Central District was redesignated as Central School District No.1 of the Towns of Wirt, Bolivar, and Clarksville, Allegany County, by the State Education Department. Bids on the old school building at West Clarksville were recei'ved and Mr. Ross Shelley, the highest bidder, became the owner. On April 18, 1940 daylight saving time was adopted for the first time in the daily school schedule. A committee of the Board of Education, on June 3, 1940, arranged with private individuals for the construction of a garage building to be rented to the school district. At the annual school meeting of the Central Dis¬trict July 9, 1940 Mrs. Congdon of Clarksville, on behalf of the Clarksville people, expressed their appreciation for the new building recently erected in West Clarksville. The Central District had again kept faith with its promises. The legal voters of the Bartoo branch school decided to send all their pupils to the Richburg Central School on July 22, 1940. The Cooley district voted to do the same and both school districts decided to dispose of their school houses. In February 1941 it was decided to initiate an Industrial Arts course in Junior High School, using the Agriculture teacher as instructor. The Principal was authorized to buy the necessary equipment. During the year of 1941 the ceiling in both the music room and gymnasium were sound-proofed. In July 1941 it was decided to buy a fifty-five passenger bus to replace one of the older ones. In August 1941 it was decided, that, in as much as the District had invested so much money in transportation equipment they should employ a full-time mechanic and bus driyer. This arrangement has proven very satisfactorily and is still continued. The voters of the Cooley branch school district of the Central School decided on August 12, 1941 to close their school and bring all their pupils to Richburg. In August 1941 it was decided to buy a station wagon to be used for school business. This purchase brought school conveyances to a total of six. It was decided in October 1941 to purchase a Radio and Recording Victrola which has proven to be very useful, not only for the classroom instruction but also for various other school activities during the past six years. In September 1942 the Board of Education sponsored the Boy and Girl Scout Troops. The sponsorship of the Boy Scouts still continues but the responsibility of the Girl Scouts was recently transferred to the Richburg Literary Club. Now the schoolhouses of three former common school districts lost their complete identity, when the Bartoo School was sold to Delbert LaFever; the Smith school to Bradley Producing Corporation in September 1942, and Babcock school to Roy Davidson in September 1943.
     
    10. Smalley School 
    On August 20, 1942, upon order of the District Superintendent of Schools, common school district No.4, known as the Smalley district, towns of Wirt, Cuba, Friendship and Clarksville, was an¬nexed to the Richburg Central School. Upon petition by the legal voter of Common school district No.2, known 2S Upper Obi, in the town of Clarksville, Superintendent W. J. Coyle issued an order annexing this school district to the Richburg Central School on March 1, 1943. In June1945 it was decided to share with Bolivar Central School the services of Guidance and Agriculture teachers. In July of the same year Donald S. Childs was employed as the first guidance teacher. In August 1945 the census indicated a large enrollment in Kindergarten for September so it was decided to run two half-day sessions. This policy has continued to the present time. Our average enrollment at present is approximately twenty in each session. In October 1945 the Cooley school house was sold to H. C. Carpenter. In July 1946 it was decided by the Board to share the services of four teachers with Bolivar, namely: Agriculture, Vincent Davis; Guidance, Donald Childs; Industrial Arts, Leroy Dodson; and Music, Ray Hess; in as much as the sharing of Agriculture and Guidance teachers had worked so well the past year. At a special meeting of the legal voters of the Central district, in September 1946, the Board of Education was authorized to purchase the Sawyer residence in order that a house would always be available for rent by the Principal of the District. As we come to the beginning of 1946-47 of the Richburg Central School we might hesitate briefly to see how far we have progressed in the last 20 years.

    11. Upper Obi School 
    In September 1946 the Central School had an enrollment of 105 pupils in the high school and 355 in the elementary school making a total of 460 pupils instructed by 23 full-time and 5 part-time teachers. In the Union Free School in 1926, there were 58 pupils in high school and 100 pupils in the elementary grades with 7 full-time teachers. The following departments have become a permanent part of the school curriculum over a period of 21 years: Art, Business, Music, Physical, Education, Home Economics, Health, Dental Hygiene, Kindergarten, Agriculture, Guidance and Industrial Arts. In the old Union Free School, a classroom was provided for the children to eat lunch. Today we have a modern equipped cafeteria serving hot lunches to approximately 225 pupils every school day. It was necessary 21 years ago to contract with private individuals or companies for transportation whereas 6 district owned buses and a station wagon adequately take care of the transportation needs of the Central School today.

    FUTURE PLANS Our present Board of Education during the war years has been studying what our community might be ten years from now and has arrived at certain conclusions relative to the general pattern of such a program, that our school system should follow in order that we might better serve the youth of our community. We, in New York State, are committed to the principle that all the children of all the people, regardless of economic status, race, place of residence, or future professional or vocational roles are entitled to an equitable opportunity to obtain a suitable education, so far as it can be provided in our public schools. This principle has never been fully realized particularly in the field of vocational education. This is especially true in our rural schools because of the sparcity of school population, cost of equipment, and teaching personnel to administer such a program.

    12. Tennis Court 
    A distinguished scholar has observed that education should parallel the great zones of human activities in which society is or should be usefully engaged. To this extent education should be as broad as life itself. If in its administration we are to give practical expression to our democratic philosophy and achieve that equality of opportunity to which public education has dedicated its services our obligations to the most menial of our society are no less than to its most scholarly and most privileged. Every pupil in our schools is entitled to that type of selected experience which will contribute most in preparing him for the immediate problems of life; and equip him to enjoy that degree of happiness, social usefulness and self-realization that can be achieved only through a functional education. Such diversification of program as is essential in providing this larger area of service can be realized only in a school of such size as to justify the establishment of many specialized courses. The size of the student body, the physical facilities and specialized preparation of faculty members are factors of practical consideration in determining the degree of social usefulness that any school is capable of rendering. The Richburg and Bolivar Boards of Education in appraising their own local situations find themselves confronted by these common problems. They, therefore, decided after considerable research on the matter, to experiment with the sharing of vocational teachers from one school to another; it has been economically possible and educationally sound to initiate vocational courses in the fields of Agriculture and Guidance the past two years, and Industrial Arts this past year. Next year we plan to continue the above courses and add vocational courses in the fields of motor mechanics and carpentry with an attempt to relate them in a practical way to the types of work that would be encountered in working in the oil fields. We hope in the near future, if our thinking proves sound, to progress into more advanced educational courses in keeping with our aim to provide the youth of our area with as equitable and suitable education as the youth in any area in the state.

     
    A distinguished scholar has observed that education should parallel the great zones of human activities in which society is or should be usefully engaged. To this extent education should be as broad as life itself. If in its administration we are to give practical expression to our democratic philosophy and achieve that equality of opportunity to which public education has dedicated its services our obligations to the most menial of our society are no less than to its most scholarly and most privileged. Every pupil in our schools is entitled to that type of selected experience which will contribute most in preparing him for the immediate problems of life; and equip him to enjoy that degree of happiness, social usefulness and self-realization that can be achieved only through a functional education. Such diversification of program as is essential in providing this larger area of service can be realized only in a school of such size as to justify the establishment of many specialized courses. The size of the student body, the physical facilities and specialized preparation of faculty members are factors of practical consideration in determining the degree of social usefulness that any school is capable of rendering. The Richburg and Bolivar Boards of Education in appraising their own local situations find themselves confronted by these common problems. They, therefore, decided after considerable research on the matter, to experiment with the sharing of vocational teachers from one school to another; it has been economically possible and educationally sound to initiate vocational courses in the fields of Agriculture and Guidance the past two years, and Industrial Arts this past year. Next year we plan to continue the above courses and add vocational courses in the fields of motor mechanics and carpentry with an attempt to relate them in a practical way to the types of work that would be encountered in working in the oil fields. We hope in the near future, if our thinking proves sound, to progress into more advanced educational courses in keeping with our aim to provide the youth of our area with as equitable and suitable education as the youth in any area in the state.

    13. Richburg C. S. - 1947