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"History of Eau Claire County
Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"
Chapter 25 - The Public Schools of Eau Claire
by W. H. Schulz
1896 to 1904
(-As transcribed from pages 410 - 415)
the June meeting of 1896 Otis C. Gross was elected city superintendent
of schools. Prof. M. S. Frawley continued to be principal of
the high school during his administration. It is very
interesting to note the development which took place during Mr. Gross's
administration. The school census did not change very much.
It was some over 6,000 during all this time. The
enrollment, however, increased from 4,000 to about 4,300. At
that time a large number of pupils who are now attending parochial
schools were attending the public schools.
The number of teachers increased from about eighty to about
100. The total operating expenses increased from about
$50,000 to $70,000. The school enrollment increased more
rapidly than the school census, and the average daily attendance a
little more rapidly than the enrollment, showing that a somewhat larger
percentage of children attended school than at an earlier date.
During the first year of this administration the school
census was 5,903 pupils of school
age. The enrollment was 3,870. The average daily attendance
The number of school rooms sixty-eight, number of pupils per
room fifty-seven. Number of grade teachers seventy, special
teachers two, salaries of teachers $30,454, and the per capita cost for
teaching $7.86. Several items are especially noteworthy:
the great difference between the
average daily attendance and the enrollment, the large number of pupils
per room and the low cost of instruction. In the high school
the same year there were nine teachers, 277 pupils enrolled; average
attendance 229, number taking English forty-six, number studying German
number taking Latin eighty-two, number of graduates forty-five and the
capita cost of instruction $23.62. From 1890 to 1900 the
average attendance in the high school has much more than doubled.
The increase in the
number of teachers did not seem to keep pace with the increase in the
of pupils, and consequently there was a decrease in the per capita cost
instruction from over $25 down to less than $20.
in his report of 1903 has the following interesting statements about
school, physical culture and hand work:
the past five years we have had four summer schools conducted
for the benefit of the city teachers. Each has been held in
the latter part of August just before the opening of the city schools
and has been of two weeks' duration. These schools have been
mainly by contributions from the teachers and appropriations from the
of Education. Most of the teachers subscribe an amount equal
day's salary. The board has appropriated each time $100.
has usually placed at the disposal of the superintendent an amount
more than $300 for the expenses of the school
have been secured who were specialists in their lines of
work, and who have represented the best and most modern ideas.
In this way our teachers have been in almost yearly contact
with, and under the instruction of, specialists who have come from the
centers of educational thought and influence. This has been
one of the most powerful factors tending to improve our schools and to
put them into the quite generally progressive and satisfactory
condition which characterizes them at present.
greatest change which has been effected is a change in the spirit
schools in the attitude of co-operation between teachers and pupils.
is more working together with the teacher as leader and adviser, and
separation into disciplinarian and disciplined. The great
of this changed attitude in the schools was the late Col. Francis
who was president of the Cook County Normal for so many years, and who
influenced the teachers who went out from that school that they became
with, and leaders of, the children. At each of our summer
have had a teacher from the Cook County (now the Chicago) Normal
and the influence of Colonel Parker has grown among us. The
is that school life is becoming much more pleasant. The
happier, more responsive, more ready to learn, and more open to the
and educational influences of school life.
the teachers nor the Board of Education can afford to be
without the instructive, helpful and inspiring effect of these summer
schools. They must be conducted, of course, by the very best
instructors obtainable. Their influence will be awakening,
progressive, vivifying and altogether wholesome.
years ago the Board of Education appropriated $100 for
purchasing the raw material to be used in constructing physical culture
apparatus for use in the school buildings. The apparatus was
made in the manual training rooms and put up in the most accessible
places near the pupils, usually
in the school halls, sometimes in the school rooms.
the primary rooms the teachers were encouraged to allow the pupils
to use the apparatus at any time when the regular work seemed to drag
or when the children's attention had been kept for a considerable time
upon some one thing, or when they became restless and needed some
escape for their pent-up activities.
amount of such apparatus has been increased from year to year.
present we have climbing ladders in all of the school buildings, and
horizontal bars, parallel bars, punching bags, brownie slides, etc., in
many of them. About a year ago it was decided to put some
apparatus on the school grounds as a standing invitation to all pupils
who were not busy in school games during the intermissions.
Horizontal bars, parallel bars and large swings have been
placed on the play grounds, and we have sets of basketball poles ready
to be placed in position this fall. We are planning to put
up giant strides also early in the coming year.
constant use of this apparatus in and about the school buildings
is having a very marked effect on the school life. Teachers
say that the discipline is becoming easier every year; that the boys
who are overflowing with activity are not so troublesome; that the
children in general are much happier and more contented. We
believe that there are also very important effects in the line of
stronger and more active bodies, better general health, and more normal
and teachable minds. The physical culture apparatus deserves
a recognized place as a part of the standard school equipment and
should be kept in repair and added to, and when worn out should be
replaced just as the school desks are replaced.
the past year an attempt has been made to extend the manual
training work into the lower grades. Several lines of hand
work were taken up with the teachers at the summer school, and the
teachers were encouraged to undertake such work with the pupils.
The Board of Education furnished the necessary material.
Though the work has been entirely voluntary on the part of
the teachers, nearly all have attempted something and the results have
been very encouraging. Some of the work has been excellent.
The children like it. It teaches them to use their
hands. It gives a more
practical aspect to all the other school work. It dignifies
aids in impressing the greatest lesson of life, which is that true
consists in true service.
would therefore recommend that such work become a regular part of the
course of study, and that for the present the following outline be
year - Kindergarten occupations, paper cutting and folding, making of
toy furniture, etc.
will be seen that the enrollment and average attendance in the high
has more than doubled in the past nine years. At present the
school is overcrowded. The assembly room was intended to
250 pupils, and we have had in the neighborhood of 400 attending during
the past year. The overcrowding has become serious and
something will need to be done. We shall not know what to do
with the numbers that will be promoted from the grades next year.
If the board should think of enlarging the present building
or of erecting an overflow building or annex it would be well to speak
of several different needs which we have felt in the present building
and which could be provided for in a new part or annex.
year - Weaving, raffia braiding, etc.
and Fourth years - Weaving of designs, patterns, garments, etc., making
of raffia baskets.
and fifth years - Rattan basket weaving, sewing, etc.
and sixth years - Rattan work, jack knife work, sewing, etc.
manual work for the seventh and eight grades is already embodied in our
course of study for the manual training and cooking departments.)
these needs are the following: A second or overflow assembly
room; additional rooms, such as a forge room, a machine shop and a
second mechanical drawing room for the manual training department; a
set of two or three rooms such as could be provided in the present
gymnasium and cooking room for a commercial department; a chemical
laboratory; an opportunity to change the cooking room to a lower floor
and thus prevent so much climbing of stairs by the seventh and eight
grade girls; an opportunity to change the gymnasium to the basement in
order to avoid the noise incident to having a gymnasium in one of the
upper rooms; closets on the assembly room floor in order to avoid so
much stair climbing by the high school girls; an opportunity to change
the botany laboratory to a south room on account of needing sunlight
many of the experiments and better light for the microscope work, and
opportunity to change the history and literature class rooms to rooms
with reading tables and book shelves or adjacent reference reading
for the reading and reference work in connection with those departments.
the provisions for room in a new assembly room and in the number of
recitation rooms should be sufficiently generous it would provide for
future growth and the development of additional departments, such as:
A commercial department, a department for sewing and the
domestic arts, a department of music and a department of free hand
drawing and art work to be connected with
the high school.
the high school has reached its present size the addition of a few new
departments if properly managed need not increase the cost per pupil of
maintaining the high school for the reason that the cost of instructing
twenty-five pupils in bookkeeping or forge work or domestic science
need not be more expensive than instructing twenty-five in algebra or
history or Latin. During the last semester we have had no
less than seven different algebra classes to accommodate the
number taking that subject. This probably means some 150
pupils taking algebra. It is safe to say that in this number
twenty-five or more would prefer a commercial course to the one they
are taking, and it makes no difference to the taxpayer whether the
an algebra teacher or a commercial course teacher, providing he be
secured for an equal salary.
present courses in the high school are better fitted to prepare pupils
to enter the professions than for the commercial and industrial
occupations. The attendance on the high school has become so
great that only a small
percentage of the pupils can expect to enter the professions.
schools would be of the greatest value to the greatest number it is
to enlarge the scope of the work in the high school and to provide for
needs of the large class of pupils who do not enter the professions,
we would recommend the gradual introduction and enlargement of
departments as indicated in the above report."
Gross's administration the domestic science department was
added to the high school curriculum. The manual training
was extended and the introduction of special teachers and supervisors
recommended, but this recommendation was not adopted. The
courses now consisted of a general science course, the Latin course and
a manual training course. The study of German was both in the
science and Latin courses.