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SUSSEX COUNTY -- Recent discussions -- with strong opinions on both sides -- have focused on the pros and cons of consolidating the county's school districts. On July 17, 1894, state legislation was adopted that forced the merger of school districts, dropping from 1,403 to a 374 township district system. The reasons for consolidating the school districts sound like the ones that are being heard and written today. On July 1, 1894, the old districts ended their legal existence, and on July 17, new trustees were elected through a secret ballot procedure.
For background information, Stein explained: "In 1894, the state seemed to initiate a new aggressive era in its policies and relationships with local school leaders. The new township district acquired all properties of the former districts and inherited all debts.
The same state law tried encouraging small districts into voluntary consolidation by annually giving 0 state aid to districts that had 45 or more students and only 0 to districts with 44 or fewer students.
There were no building standards and building construction varied with each building.
Even though a new nine-member road represented the entire township, within that board, local trustee residents were given special privileges, resources and responsibilities for the neighborhood school, creating the impression that very little had changed.
The new law also required school districts to purchase textbooks, which were not included in any of the district's budgets.
The first policy assumed that if the local districts could not be legislatively eliminated their numbers could be stabilized or reduced." Stein's research reflects that prior to 1894, several efforts were made toward voluntary consolidation of school districts.
In 1871, Public Law Chapter 527 required that no new school district could be created unless it had at least 75 children between the ages of 5 and 18.
In 1873 there were 60 students enrolled with 40 attending. in history from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, information is available at our fingertips.