Sunday, April 4, 2010

School District Centralization in Bovina

This is another article that ran in 2006 in the Bovina UP Church Newsletter about Bovina Schools.

The disappearance of commons schools in Bovina in the twentieth century was part of a statewide trend. Rural school districts faced decreasing enrollments and a weakening tax base as the century progressed. School district centralization was seen as a more efficient way to educate children, so the state provided financial incentives for centralization. This prompted a steady growth in the creation of central school districts, especially during the economic depression of the 1930s. Bovina lost five common school districts during the depression. The Andes Central School District was created in 1933, taking Bovina districts 7 (Coulter/Russell Hill) and 8 (Biggar Hollow). In 1936, the Delhi Central School District was created, incorporating district 6 (Lake Delaware). District number 2 (Pink Street) became part of the South Kortright Central School District at its creation in 1938.

This left seven districts in Bovina at the end of the 30s, and only four of them, Districts 1 (Maynard), 3 (Butt End), 4 (Bovina Center), and 5 (Miller Avenue/Bramley Mountain) were operating schools. The question now was not when would these districts be merged into a central district, but into what district would they go? This led to a battle between the Delhi and Andes districts for the Bovina districts.

Andes advocates argued that the Andes school was two miles closer to Bovina and that Bovina children would mix better with those in Andes. They also argued that when the anticipated reservoirs for New York City were created that its student body would be reduced. Bovina students would help keep the Andes numbers respectable. The fact that Delhi had larger classes also argued for merging with Andes.

Advocates for merging with Delhi argued that Bovina students in the past had attended school in Delhi. They pointed out that Delhi was Bovina's shopping, trading, banking and railroad center and that the drive did not require going over mountainous roads, which were dangerous in the winter. They also argued that the Delhi Central School would provide a larger curriculum. The Andes advocates in return argued that many from Bovina did their shopping and banking in Andes and that the roads to Andes had been safe enough for transporting Andes students for years.

Petitions supporting the merge with Delhi were submitted to the Commissioner of Education in early 1939, signed by 80% of the eligible Bovina voters. In 1943, it was reported that petitions were submitted showing that 78% of the voters supported joining the Andes district. The State Education Department was justifiability confused by the conflicting petitions.

In 1942, the Rapp Committee was created to develop a Master Plan for school district reorganization. When the plan was issued in 1947, the remaining Bovina school districts were to be joined with Andes. In 1958, the plan was revised, placing the remaining Bovina common school districts in Delhi, not Andes. Why this change happened is not clear. Neither the original nor the revised plan was compulsory, but that same year, districts 5 and 10 (both on Bramley Mountain) were ordered abolished and annexed to Delhi. Time was running out for Bovina's common schools. By this time, only districts 1 and 4 were still operating schoolhouses. The last Bovina schoolhouse closed in June 1961. In 1965, the state ordered all remaining districts that sent all their students to another school be dissolved by July 1, 1969. On June 28, 1967, voters in Bovina voted to dissolve the remaining contract districts in the town and merge them with Delhi. They were officially abolished two days later. Thus ended the common school era in Bovina.

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