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An Act in relation to the Public Schools in the city of Schenectady

Passed April 9, 1854.

The people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

  1. Alonzo C. Paige and Nicholas Van Vranken, of the first ward of the city of Schenectady, David M. Moore and William N. Duane, of the second ward, Charles Chequer and Hiram Champion, of the third ward, and Demetrius M. Chadsey and Isaac G. Duryea of, the fourth ward, are hereby appointed commissioners of Common Schools of said city. Such commissioners, within ten days after receiving notice of the passage of this act, shall take the oath of office, prescribed by the constitution of this state, and file the same with the City Clerk.
  2. Within ten days after taking the oath of office, said commissioners shall meet in the Common Council rooms of said city, and shall determine by lot which of the two commissioners in each ward shall serve the term ending on the second Tuesday of May, eighteen hundred and fifty-five, and which for the term ending on the first Tuesday of May, eighteen hundred and fifty six; but they may hold their offices until others are elected in their places, and have taken the oath of office.
  3. In each year thereafter there shall be elected in said city, at a special election to be held on the first Tuesday of May, in each year, in the same manner, and under the same regulations as other ward officers are elected, one commissioner of common schools for each ward, to supply the places of those whose terms are about to expire; they shall hold their offices for two years, and until others are elected and taken the oath of office. The term of all the office of all the commissioners, elected pursuant to this act, shall commence on the Tuesday next after the election.
  4. The Common Council of said city may make appointments of commissioners of common schools, to fill vacancies which may occur from any other cause than the expiration of the term of office of those elected. The commissioners so appointed shall hold their office until the Tuesday next succeeding the next annual election; and at each annual election there shall be chosen a commissioner to supply the place of any person so appointed; and the person thus elected shall serve out the unexpired term.
  5. Any commissioner of common schools in said city may be removed from office for official misconduct by the Common Council of said city, by a vote of two-thirds of the members thereof; but a written copy of the charges preferred against said commissioner, shall be served upon him, and he shall be allowed an opportunity of refuting any such charges of misconduct, before removal.
  6. The commissioners of common schools in said city shall constitute a board, to be styled "The Board of Education of the City of Schenectady," which shall be a corporate body in relation to all the powers and duties conferred upon them by virtue of this act. A majority of the board shall constitute a quorum. The first meeting of said board shall be held on the second Wednesday of May, eighteen hundred and fifty-four; and the annual meetings of said board, in each year thereafter, shall be held on the second Wednesday of May in each year. At the first meeting of the board, and annually thereafter, at the annual meeting, they shall elect one of their number president of the board, and whenever he shall be absent, a president pro tempore may be appointed. The said commissioners shall receive no compensation for their services, nor shall they be interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract for building or for making any improvements or repairs provided for by this act.
  7. The said commissioners shall meet for the transaction of business, as often as once in each month, and may adjourn for any shorter time. Special meetings may be called by the president, or, in his absence or inability to act, by any member of the board, as often as necessary, by giving personal notice to each member of the board, or by causing a written or printed notice to be left at his last place of residence, at least twenty-four hours before the hour for such special meeting.
  8. The said commissioners shall appoint a secretary and librarian, who shall hold his office during the pleasure of the board, and whose compensation shall be fixed by the board. The said secretary shall keep a record of the proceedings of the board, have charge of the library, and perform such other duties as the board may prescribe. The said record, or transcript thereof, certified by the secretary, shall be received in all courts as prima facie evidence of the facts therein set forth; and such record, and all the books, accounts, vouchers and papers of said board shall at all times be subject to the inspection of the common council or any committee thereof.
  9. The common council of said city shall have power, and it shall be their duty, to raise from time to time, by tax, to be levied upon all the real and personal estate in said city which city shall be liable to taxation for the ordinary city taxes, or for city and county charges, in like manner as city charges of taxes are raised, such sums as may be determined and certified by the said board of education to be necessary and proper for any or all of the following purpose:
    1. To purchase, lease, or improve sites for school houses, or sites with buildings thereon for the same purposes;
    2. To build, purchase, lease, enlarge, alter, improve and repair school houses, and their out houses and appurtenances;
    3. To purchase, exchange, improve and repair school apparatus, books, furniture and appendages ; but the power herein granted shall not be deemed to authorize the furnishing with class or text books, any scholar whose parents or guardian shall be able to furnish the same;
    4. To procure fuel and defray the contingent expenses of the common schools, including the academical department therein, and the expenses of the school library of said city, and the necessary contingent expenses of said board, including the salary of the secretary of the board, and the compensation allowed to the assistant librarians;
    5. To pay teachers' wages, after the application of public monies which may by law be appropriated and provided for that purpose;
    6. The amount raised for teachers' wages and contingent expenses shall not be less than twice nor more than six times the amount appropriated to said city from the common school fund of the state during the previous year nor shall there be raised in any one year, for buying sites, or sites with buildings thereon, erecting and repairing school houses, and the appurtenances, a sum exceeding two thousand dollars, except as herein otherwise provided for. And the common council are authorized and directed, when necessary to borrow in anticipation the amount of taxes so to be raised, collected and levied as aforesaid, and to give the bonds of the city, signed by the mayor, and under the seal of the city, as security for the repayment of the monies so borrowed.
  10. All monies to be raised pursuant to the provisions of this act, and all school monies by law appropriated to or provided for said city, whether from the school or literature fund, or under the act to establish free schools throughout the state, or otherwise, shall be paid to the treasurer of said city, who, together with the sureties on his official bond, shall be accountable therefor in the same manner as for other monies of said city. The said treasurer shall be liable to the same penalties for oflicial misconduct in relation to the said money, as for any similar misconduct in relation to other monies of said city.
  11. All monies required to be raised by virtue of this act or received by said city for the use of the common schoold therein, or of the academical department hereinafter mentioned, shall be deposited, for the safe keeping thereof, with the treasurer of said city, to the credit of said board of education, until drawn from said treasurer as hereinafter provided for; and the said treasurer shall keep the fund authorised by this act to be received by him, separate and distinct from any other funds which he is or may by law be authorized to receive.
  12. The treasurer shall pay out the monies authorised by this act to be received by him, upon drafts drawn by the president and countersigned by the secretary of said board of education, which draft shall not be drawn except in pursuance of a resolution or resolutions of said board, and shall be made payable to the person or persons entitled to receive said money.
  13. The said board shall have power, and it shall be their duty:
    1. To organize and establish such and so many schools in said city, as they shall deem requisite and expedient, and to alter and discontinue the same;
    2. To purchase and hire school houses and room, lots, or sites for school houses, or sites with buildings thereon to be used as school houses, and to fence and improve such sites as they may deem proper;
    3. Upon such lots and upon such sites, owned by said city, to build enlarge, alter, improve and repair school houses, out-houses and appurtenances, as they may deem advisable;
    4. To have the custody and safe keeping of the school houses, out-houses, books, furniture and appurtenances, and to see that the ordinances of the common council in relation thereto be observed;
    5. To contract with, license and employ all teachers in said schools and the academical department therein, and at their pleasure to remove them;
    6. To pay the wages of the teachers in said schools, out of the monies appropriated and provided by law for the support of common schools in said city, and the wages of the teachers of the academical department out of the monies appropriated to said department from the income of the literature and United States deposit funds, so far as the same shall be sufficient, and the residue of the wages of the teachers in said schools and academical department, from the money authorised to be raised for that purpose by section nine of this act, by tax upon said city;
    7. To defray the contingent expenses of the said common schools and academical department, and the expenses of the school library of said city, and the necessary and contingent expenses of the board, including the annual salary of the secretary of the board, and the compensation allowed to the assistant librarians, provided the account of the expenses shall first be audited and allowed by the common council;
    8. To have in all respects the superintendence, supervision and management of the common schools of said city, and from time to time to adopt, alter, modify and repeal, as they may deem expedient, rules and regulations for their organization, government and instruction, or the reception of pupils and their transfer from one school to another, and generally for their good order, prosperity and utility; and to have power to establish into said schools and academical department pupils residing out of said city, and to regulate and establish the tuition fees of such non-resident pupils in the several departments of said schools, and in such academical department, and to collect such fees in the name of the said city; to regulate the transfer of scholars from the primary to the academical departments, to direct what text books shall be used in said schools and academical department, to provide and keep in repair school apparatus books for indigent pupils, furniture and appendages; fuel and other necessaries for the schools and academical department; and to appoint assistant librarians as they may from time to time deem necessary, and to regulate their compensation;
    9. Whenever, in the opinion of the board of education, it may be advisable to sell any of the school houses, lots or sites, or any of the school property now or hereafter belonging to the city, to report the same to the common council;
    10. To prepare and report to the common council such ordinances and regulations as may be necessary and proper for the protection, safe keeping, care and preservation of school houses, lots and sites and appurtenances, and all the property belonging to the city connected with or appertaining to the schools, and to suggest proper penalties for the violation of such ordinances and regulations, and annually, on or before the first day of June in each year, to determine and certify to the said common council the sums in their opinion necessary or proper to be raised under the ninth section of this act for the year commencing on the first day of July thereafter, specifying the amount required for each of the purposes therein mentioned, and the reason therefor;
    11. Between the first day of July and the first day of August in each year to make and transmit to the county clerk, or such other officer as may be designated by law, a report in writing, bearing date the first of,July in the year of its transmission, and stating:
      • First. The number of school houses in said city, and an account and description of all common schools kept in said city during the preceding year, and the time they bave severally been taught;
      • Second. The number of children taught in said schools respectively, and the number of children over the age of four years and under the age of twenty-one years, residing in said city on the first day of January in each year;
      • Third. The whole amount of school monies received by the treasurer of said city during the preceding year, distinguishing the amount received from the city treasurer, from the city tax, and from any other sources;
      • Fourth. The manner in which said monies have been expended, and whether any and what part remains unexpended, and for what cause;
      • Fifth. The amount of monies received for tuition fees from foreign pupils during the year, and the amount paid for teachers' wages in addition to the public monies, with such other information relating to the common schools of said city as may from time to time be required of the state superintendent of common schools.
  14. Each school commissioner shall visit all the schools in said city, at least twice in each year of his official term; and said board of education shall provide that each of said schools shall be visited by a committee of three or more of their number, at least once in each term.
  15. It shall be the duty of said board, in all their expenditures and contracts, to have reference to the amount of monies which shall be subject to their order during the then current year, for the particular expenditures in question, and not to exceed that amount.
  16. The said board of commissioners shall be trustees of the school libraries in said city; and all the provisions of law which now are or hereafter may be passed relative to school district libraries, shall apply to said commissioners in the same manner as if they were trustees of a school district comprehending said city; they shall also be vested with the same discretion, as to the disposition of the monies appropriated by the laws of this state for the purchase of libraries, which is therein conferred on the inhabitants of school districts. It shall be their duty to provide room or rooms for such libraries, and the necessary furniture therefor. The librarian shall report to the board the condition of the library or libraries under his charge; and the said board or secretary thereof, under the direction and by the resolution of said board, may make all purchases of said books for said library or libraries, and may direct the mode of their distribution, and may cause to be repaired damaged books belonging thereto, and may sell any book in said library or libraries that may be deemed useless, and apply the proceeds to the purchase of other books, for said library or libraries.
  17. The title of the school houses, sites, lots furniture, books, apparatus and appurtenances and all other school property in this act mentioned, shall be vested in the city of Schenectady, and the same while used or appropriated for school purposes, shall not be levied upon or sold by virtue of any warrant or execution, nor be subiect to taxation for any purpose whatever; and the said city in its corporate capacity shall be able to take and hold any personal or real estate transferred to it by grant, gifts, devise or bequest, in trust for the benefit of the common schools of said city, or of the academical department therein, whether the same be transferred in terms to said city by its corporate name or by any official designation, or to any person or persons or bodies for the benefit of said schools or academical department.
  18. The common council of said city shall, upon the recommendation of said board of education, sell any of the school houses, sites, lots, or any of the school property now or hereafter belonging to said city upon such terms as the common council shall deem reasonable; the proceeds of all such sales shall be paid to the treasurer of said city, and shall shall be by said board expended in the purchase, repairs or improvement of school houses, lots, sites or school furniture, apparatus or appurtenances.
  19. It shall be the duty of said board, at least fifteen days before the annual election for commissioners in each year, to prepare and report to the common council true and correct statements of the receipts and disbursements of monies under and in pursuance of the provisions of this act during the preceding year, in which account shall be stated under appropriate heads:
    1. The monies raised by the common council under the ninth section of this act;
    2. The school monies received by the treasurer of the city from the county treasurer;
    3. The monies received by the treasurer of the said city under the ninth section of this act;
    4. All other monies received by the treasurer of said city subject to the order of the board, specifying the sources from which they shall have been derived;
    5. The manner in which such sums of money shall have been expended, specifying the amount under each head of expenditure; and the common council shall at least ten days before such election, cause the same to be published in all newspapers of said city.
  20. The common council shall have power, and it shall be their duty to pass such ordinances and regulations as the said board may report as necessary for the protection, preservation, safe keeping and care of the school houses, lots, sites, appurtenances and appendages, libraries and all necessary property belonging to or connected with the schools of said city, and to impose such penalties for the violation thereof as the common council are authorized to impose by section nine of the Session Laws of 1848, and all such penalties shall be collected in the same manner that the penalties for the violations of the city ordinances are by law collected; and when collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the city, to the credit of the said board of education, and shall be subject to their order in the same manner as other monies raised pursuant to the provisions of this act.
  21. It shall be the duty of the clerk of said city, immediately after the election of any person as commissioner of common schools, personally or in writing, to notify him of his election; and if any such person shall not, within ten days after receiving such notice of his election, take and subscribe the constitutional oath, and file the same with the clerk of said city, the common council may consider it as a refusal to serve, and proceed to supply the vacancy occasioned by such refusal; the person so refusing, shall forfeit and pay to the city treasurer, for the benefit of the schools of said city, a penalty of $10.
  22. The trustees of the Lancaster School Society may in their discretion at any time after the passage of this act convey and transfer to the said city, all its school houses, sites, lots, and all its other property of every name and description, both real and personal, and to place in the care of said board of education, all school records, account books, vouchers, contracts, papers, and all other school property of said city. All the said school houses, sites, lots and other real property, and the said personal property, shall be used and appropriated for school purposes, and shall form part of the school property of said city, and the proceeds of the same, when sold, shall be aid to the treasurer of the said city, to be expended by said board of education in the purchase, repair or improvement of school houses, lots, sites, or of school furniture, apparatus and appurtenances, or in the repair or improvement of the same.
  23. Every academical department to be established as aforesaid, shall be under the visitation of the Regents of the University, and shall be subject, in its course of education and matters pertaining thereto, (but not in reference to the buildings or erections in which the same is conducted, unless in case the buildings or erections aforesaid are separate from those of the common school department,) to all the regulations made in regard to the academies by the said Regents; and in such department the qualifications for the entrance of any pupil shall be the same as those established by the said Regents for admission into any academy of the state under their supervision. And such academical department shall share in the distribution of the income of the literature fund and of the income of the United States deposit fund, with academies in the state subject to the visitation of the Regents.
  24. The said board of education shall have power to purchase in the corporate name of the city of Schenectady, from the Trustees of Union College, and the said Trustees of Union College shall have power to sell and convey to said city, the building called the West College and the buildings connected therewith, and the site on which they stand, situate on Union street in said city, and lying beween College street and the Erie canal and the New York Central Railroad, for the use of the said common schools and academical department, and upon such trusts and upon such terms, and subject to such conditions as shall be agreed upon by and between the said board of education and the said Trustees of Union College; and said buildings and premises, after the same shall be conveyed to the city of Schenectady, in pursuance of such agreement, shall be held by said city for such uses and purposes, and upon such trusts, and subject to such conditions, as shall be so agreed upon, and shall bespecified in the deed of conveyance. The preceding provisions of this act in relation to the purchase of school houses, sites and lots, and other real property, and to the taking, holding, disposition and sale of the same, so far as the same is inconsistent with this section, shall not be applicable to the purchase, sale and conveyance authorised in this section.
  25. The said board of education and the said trustees of Union College shall have power from time to time to enter into such contracts as they may deem expedient, in relation to the organization, superintendence and management of the said academical department, the prescribing the course of studies and system of discipline, and the appointment and payment of the professors and teachers in such academical department; and also in relation to the terms upon which the pupils in said academical department may receive books from the libraries of Union College, or attend the lectures of the professors in said college, or be admitted, when prepared, as members in full standing of its several classes. Such contracts when entered into, shall be binding on said board of education and the said Trustees of Union College, and shall be faithfully executed. The preceding provisions of this act in,relation to the powers and duties of said board of education shall be deemed modified by this section, and such powers and duties shall be exercised only in conformity to the contracts which may be entered into under this section.
  26. This act shall extend over and be applicable to all territory lying within the corporate limits of the said city and the office of town Superintendent of Common Schools, so far as it is applicable to the said city of Schenectady, is hereby abolished.
  27. This act shall take effect immediately, and all acts and parts of acts, inconsistent with the provisions of this act, are hereby repealed.

STATE OF NEW YORK, SECRETARY'S OFFICE.

I have compared the foregoing, with an original law on file in this office, and certify that the same is a correct transcript therefrom, and of the whole of said original.

[L. S.] Given under my hand and seal of office, at Albany, this 14th day of April, in the year 1854.

A. G. JOHNSON, Dep. Sec. of State

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