Note by Bill Ricks:
"The most important institution in any community, other than the churches, is the system of schools. The influence of the school affects each of us, whether it be as a student, as a parent, or as an interested spectator or supporter of the many activities and sports sponsored by the school.
"Practically all of us have attended school at one time or another, and each alumnus takes pride in supporting his old Alma Mater. As we near the end of another year, we thought it would be an apppropriate time to reflet on the history of our 55 year old Treutlen County School System.
"We gratefully acknowledge the work of the late Ferd B. Bates, former Superintendent of Schools, for compiling the information presented in the first part of the article, and our thanks to Treutlen County School Superintendent Bobby Driggers for bringing us up to date with the final portion."
The Treutlen County System began officially on March 21, 1919, when the Board of Education met for the first time. This Board, composed of J. J. Moring, R. L. Gillis, W. B. Snow, M. L. O'Brien, and J. B. Ricks, organized by electing M. L. O'Brien president and confired the election of R. E. Ward as Superintendent and Secretary of the Board. Mr. Ward had been elected in December of 1918, but owing to the situation existing at the time and resulting from the creation of Treutlen as a county in 1918 from the counties of Montgomery and Emanuel, there were no funds to operate schools until March. Prior to March of 1919 the history of our schools is a part of the history of the above counties, and I have not studied any of those records.
In the almost 36 years of the Treutlen County School System six people have served as Superintendent, 3 men and 3 women:
R. E. Ward - March 1919 to January 1, 1929 - 10 years.
Mrs. James Fowler - January 1, 1929 to her death - August 28, 1931 - 2 years 8 months.
Mrs. W. L. Sessions - September 1931 to January 1, 1933 - 1 year 4 months.
J. W. Fowler - January 1, 1933 to January 1, 1949 - 16 years.
Mrs. Louise Thigpen - January 1, 1949 to January 1, 1953 - 4 years.
Note by Bill Ricks:
"Mr. Bates was our sixth Superintendent and Mr. Driggers the seventh."
The first payroll of the Treutlen County System was made on March 21, 1919 in the amount of $1,738.53 and was made from funds received from Montgomery county on March 18, in the amount of $1287.45, with an overdraft of $451.08. The second overdraft in April left a deficit of $1,548.40, but in May with the help of a $3,500.oo loan the system had a balance of $876.16. Briefly, the financial situation of the system from 1919 to 1949, when the last loan was made, was largely a matter of borrowing and repaying.
The School System in 1919 was composed of 15 white schools with 36 teachers and 7 colored schools with 8 teachers. This number of school and teachers varied, increasing to 20 white schools and 11 colored in 1922 with 43 white and 12 colored teachers.
Note by Bill Ricks:
"According to County Board Records from Mr. Driggers' office some of the names of the schools at that time were: Bridge, Crooked Run, Edna Terrace, Holton, Hutcheson, Live Oak, Lothair, Mount Hope, Oglethorpe, Orland, Orianna, Page, Pine Grove, Phillips, Red Bluff, Rosemont, Soperton, White Oak, Willis and Zaidee."
After 1922 a period of consolidation set in. Actually consolidation began in March 1920 when White Oak, Red Bluff and Orland voted to consolidate, but had to wait for a building to be constructed. (Actually went into effect November 1922). In October 1920 Bridge School and Oglethorpe School were to be consolidated after May 1, 1921, but both schools continued on the payroll through April 1923. Thus Orland was the first to consolidate, with Bridge and Oglethorpe next.
Note by Bill Ricks:
"From the minutes of the meeting of the County Board during 1923 came this information: Mr. R. E. Ward bought the old Red Bluff for $125.00 and the Red Bluff land was deeded to the Baptist Church there. The Orland property went to Mr. M. D. Davis for $125.00 and the White Oak School sold to Mr. Elmo Smith for $225.00. (Pictures of the White Oak School building were made in 1974, and are on the 'Bill Ricks of Soperton' blogsite."
This consolidation of white schools continued to the present time when we have 4 white schools employing 17 teachers. (The previous sentence is confusing. Probably it meant that the consolidation had ended with four integrated schools with 71 teachers.)
You might be interested in the development of the Soperton School. In May 1922, at a special meeting of the Board of Education Professor Burton made a proposition the the county board to establish a nine month High School. After discussion the proposition was deferred to next meeting. At that meeting the proposition was tabled. In January 1923 Soperton Independent School was abolished by resolution of the City Board of Education, composed of Will Stalling, Chm.; J. E. Hall, Secty, and W. W. Wade, and all schools rights and supervision of the Soperton Independent school system were ceded to, and accepted by the county Board of Education. In February of the same year Edna Terrace, Live Oak and Zaidee schools were consolidated with Soperton. In 1936 Phillips and Eillis Schools came into the Soperton district. In 1945 Hutcheson, followed by Cross Roads in 1946, joined with Soperton. This completed the Soperton School consolidation, except for transferring the 8th and 9th grades from Gillis Springs which was done in 1952-53. --- Ferd B. Bates
Note by Bill Ricks:
"The above information came from a Soperton News article, November 4, 1954. it was written by Mr. Ferd B. Bates, who was completing his second year as County School Superintendent. Mr. Bates' term of office was January 1, 1953 - December 30, 1958. After Mr. Bates' death Mr. Bobby Driggers began his term of office on January 20, 1959 and has served as County School Superintendent until the present (1974) We especially appreciate Mr. Driggers taking the time and effort in gathering and writing the following information to bring us up to date on this history of the Treutlen County School System."
The schools that were consolidated in September of 1955 were: Gillis Springs White School; Orland; Rosemont; Gilis Springs Colored School;; Love Industrial; and Phillips Chapel. Grades 4-12 of the Treutlen County Training School, located at the old Fair Grounds, was moved to the new building located on Third Street (called Fowler Street in 2010).
This change left only three buildings and three schools in Treutlen County.
In the Spring of 1970 the Treutlen County Board of Education received an order from the United States Federal Court in Atlanta to eliminate the Dual School System by September of 1970 and bring about a unitary one for all children regardless of race, color or national origin.
This "order" caused another change to be brought about in the system. The changes were as follows: The Treutlen Elementary and High School Plant was desnated as Th Treutlen Elementary School for grades 3-7; The Treutlen County Training School was designated as The Treutlen High School for grades 8-12; The Treutlen Primary School retained that name and was designated to house grades 1 and 2 along with whatever Pre-Programs might be implemented. The afore-mentioned change still exists. (In 1974.)
Treutlen County being a rural one, it is necessary to transport approximately 73 percent of the students who attend the schools. In 1958 the County Board of Education owned only school bus. The other eighteen or nineteen buses that were being operated in the county were privately owned and operated by individuals with compensation being given on so much per mile for dirt roads and so much per mile for paved roads. (All the drivers wanted their routes laid out on paved roads.)
Since 1958 the Board of Education had gained ownership of all the buses and replaced the older models with newer models. A school bus garage has been constructed to maintain the equipment and keep it operable. It was proven that the Board could buy gas and parts cheaper and as a result operated the buses cheaped than an individual.
At the present, sixteen buses and three spare are used to provide pupil transportation to some one thousand students who attend one of the three schools. Drivers have to pass physical examinations on a yearly basis as well as other examinations given by the State Department annually.
During the Spring and Summer of 1960 the Board of Education constructed an adequate cafeteria for the Treutlen Primary School to replace the "old" obsolete barracks-style building that was used to serve lunches.
(In 2010 James Willis uses one of the "old" buildings as a shop. It may be seen at the Willis house on Adrian Road.)
Since this time the Board of Education has caused the following construction to be brought about:
A Gym was constructed on The Treutlen High School Campus; A Band Room was constructed on the Treutlen Elementary School Campus; five classrooms have been added to Treutlen High School; a Vocational Sop and Band Building have been constructed on the Treutlen High School Campus;; the driveways have been paved and sidewalks and parking lots at each school have been constructed.
Currently (1974) the school system has a total enrollment of 1,400 students and 72 teachers and principals. Eight maintenqnce people are employed along with sixteen bus drivers, one mechanic, fourteen cafeteria employees, twelve teacher aides and four secretaries representing a total of 127 employees in the system.
In 1919 the payroll was $1,738.53; the payroll in November of 1974 was $63, 790.79. The total budget for the 1974-75 school year is $1,083,598.65. This money will come from Federal Sources, State Sources and Local Sources. The amount of local money in this amount, which will come from local tqxes if they are all collected, will be $212,736.36. This represents 20 percent of the total budget for education.
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