Offer to Rebuild Schoolhouse and Library
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School Board Praises Teachers ---Plan Double Sessions

(Special to The Courant)
Manchester, Oct. 24, 1913.

From the ruins of yesterday's fire there will rise modern brick buildings to be used not only for school purposes, but for recreation purposes, and no longer will the plan of centralization of the town's schools be carried out. All of this can be made possible by a liberal offer by Cheney Brothers who, after a meeting of the directors of their company held this morning, submitted to the meeting of the Ninth School District committee the result of their decision. It is a plan that provides for the erection of a new school building on the site of the one wiped out by fire yesterday, the enlargement of the Lincoln School at the Center, the erection of a new school in the west part of the town on land to be given by Cheney Brothers, and a promise to erect and maintain a recreation building and new library, the last two buildings to be built, together with a new schoolhouse, on the land used in the past for the school destroyed.

The Lincoln school must be enlarged by the addition of at least eight more rooms, which would cost in the neighborhood of $45,000. A school to be erected on the Pleasant Street lot, to be given by Cheney Brothers would be an eight-room school building and would take care of about 500 pupils, and would cost the district in the neighborhood of $50,000. The school that Cheney Brothers would build would be about the same size as the proposed enlarged Lincoln school would be, which would accommodate about 750 pupils, and the recreation building would be of such proportions that the cost to Cheney Brothers would be about $200,000. These buildings would be given to the town at an annual rental of $1 a year and would be maintained by Cheney Brothers.

Their proposition is clearly set out in the letter sent to the committee this afternoon. It is as follows:---

The Offer

At a meeting of the directors of Cheney Brothers, held in South Manchester, Conn., on October 24, 1913, it was voted that Cheney Brothers present the following proposition to the Ninth School District, to wit:

When the district shall have voted,

Then Cheney Brothers will agree,

School Committee Accepts

The committee was very much pleased with the offer and lost no time in accepting it, or rather approving it, and it will be submitted to the voters for action at a special town meeting to be held November 2. To bring about these changes it will be necessary, however, to pass the amendments to the district chapter, which were turned down a month ago, as it will be necessary to secure these before the recreation proposition is to be considered.

The land which Cheney Brothers propose to give to the district for school purposes on the West Side, is a large tract of land known to all as "The Four Acre Lot" and is more of a ten-acre lot than a four-acre one. It is situated between Pleasant, Cedar, Cooper Hill and Cooper streets and is in a central part of the West Side, a fast growing community. To the residents of the West Side this will be good news as there had been a feeling in that part of the town that the walk for little tots was too much from the West Side to the school on School Street. The idea of increasing the size of the Lincoln School is to allow children of higher grades to attend that school and to make the school building on the site of the school burned a smaller building and not have so many pupils under one roof. The additional space required for the other buildings which it is proposed to erect will take most of the land on the tract.

The meeting of the board was called to take some action on providing for means of taking care of the school children while a new school is being built and one of the first matters that was brought to the attention of the board was a resolution commending the action of the teachers in the school that was burned. It was voted to make it a part of the records of the meeting and was as follows:

"At a special meeting of the committee of the Ninth School District, held October 24, 1913, all of the members of the committee being present, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Resolved - That we hereby express on behalf of the parents and residences of the Ninth School District, our deep gratitude to the principal of the East School Building and the teachers associated with her, who so faithfully and heroically exercised their duty in the face of a great emergency.

"We wish further to express to the superintendent our admiration of the effectiveness of his organization and discipline, without which the efforts of pupils and teachers would have been of little avail.

"As a further expression of our appreciation and admiration for these devoted services, it is voted that all the teachers on duty in the East School be granted a week's leave of absence, and further that a copy of these resolutions be noted by the secretary to all of the teachers to whom this applies and to the local papers."

For Double Sessions

While plans were not fully perfected as to the methods of taking care of the children it seemed to be the opinion of the board that they could best be handled through a double session system. The smaller children will start school at 8 o'clock and remain in the school until 12 o'clock noon. In the afternoon the older pupils will start at 1 o'clock and remain until 5 o'clock. This will make it possible to take care of all the children at the district in the High School, Lincoln School and Cooper Hill School with the possible exception of the kindergarten, which is not as important as the other grades.

While the pupils are now attending school five hours a day it is also true that there are certain hours given up to study each day so the time taken up in recitations is just about four hours. To carry out a double session system it would mean that studying would have to be done outside of school. The same teachers would not teach both sessions, but with the passing out of the pupils from the school in the morning the teachers would also go, and the room would be in charge of another teacher. Plans are to be worked out yet in connection with this idea and they are still unsettled.

Special District Meeting

There is to be a special meeting of the ninth school district held in High School Hall Monday evening, November 3. The meeting is called to see what the district will do to provide schools for the district: to see if it will vote to enlarge the Lincoln School; to see if it will vote to build a new school on the West Side; to see if it will vote to accept a proposition made by Cheney Brothers as to providing a school and recreation building and to see if it will vote by ballot to change the present charter of the district by accepting certain amendments to the district charter.

If the district votes to build the school it is proposed to bond the district and by a tax of about 1 mill a year pay off, besides the interest, about $5000 of the bond issue. It would be necessary to bond the district for about $100,000 to do this.

Those who have learned of the proposition made by Cheney Brothers consider it a very liberal offer and there seems no reason why it should be turned down, as it will save the district about $200,000.

Webmaster's Note: The Ninth District Fire was a catastrophic event in the history of Manchester, though it could have been much, much worse had there been loss of life among the students, teachers and administrators in the school at the time it broke out.

For additional articles on the Fire in this web site, please click on: Schools Gone By (9th District)  and   Elisabeth Bennet (School Fire).