Hon. W. N. Sheats, State Supt. of Public Instruction.
Sir:--Complying with your request, I hereby submit the following statement of what has been accomplished in this county for the public schools during the past two years.
I have been hard at work ever since assuming this office, on January 7, 1913, and I still see a great deal of work ahead of me and my fellow Superintendents. to enumerate everything that has been done in the schools of this county during the past two years would take more space than you have allotted me. Therefore, I shall confine my remarks to the most important things accomplished.
Buildings and Salaries. All the school buildings in the county have been repaired that needed it, supplied with good water and fuel and kept in a sanitary condition. Five new school buildings have been erected, and two are being constructed in the rural districts. Salaries have been raised in some of the rural schools, which has insured better management and produced better results. I find that we are compelled to depend largely on the teachers in the rural districts, owing to the nature of the work that a County Superintendent has to do, not giving him much time for direct supervison of rural schools. In order to secure competent teachers sufficient salaries must be paid them. There has been a decided increase in school attendance under the improved conditions of the schools, both in the rural districts and in the city.
Dental Clinic and Improvements in St. Augustine School. Under my administration the School Board has established in the St. Augustine school the following improvements:
A fully equipped Kindergarten, Manual Training for pupils above the sixth grade, and a Dental Clinic. The Dentist's office is located in the St. Augustine High School building, and all public school pupils are examined and their teeth treated free of charge. This applies to pupils of the entire county. the Dental Clinic was made possible by the generosity of Mr. John T. Dismukes, of St. Augustine, who pays the dentist's salary. The Board furnished the outfit for the Dental Clinic and furnishes the necessary supplies. This work has been very successful with us and has helped the pupils wonderfully. I am reliably informed that this is the only school in the Southern and Western States wherein the teeth of the pupils are examined and treated free. The salaries of the teachers have been raised. A Supervisor of Penmanship has been employed for the St. Augustine school, who teaches penmanship in all the grades and in the high school. A teacher of Modern Languages has been employed. Forty-five minutes recitation periods and a nine month's session for the St. Augustine high school have been established, which has placed it on the accredited list.
Commercial Course. The Commercial Course of the St. Augustine high school has been improved and is equipped with nine typewriters, representing the three standard makes. A full two years' course is given, consisting of the following subjects: Shorthand, Typewriting, Bookkeeping, Commercial Law, Business Arithmetic, Business English, Spelling, and Penmanship. a pupil satisfactorily completing this course is capable of taking a position in an up-to-date business office.
Hot Lunches and Other Improvements in the High School. The St. Augustine High School Orchestra has been improved and now consists of twelve pieces. All the members of the orchestra are boys. Hot lunches are served in the basement of the High School building. The steam heating of the St. Augustine school building has been repaired and put in excellent condition, which makes the splendid building second to none in Florida.
Financial. The financial condition of the school fund of this county is not as good as I would like to see it. When I became Superintendent, I found an indebtedness of about $75,000. The most of it was out at 8% to 5 1/2%, thus saving for the school fund about twice as much money annually as my salary amounts to.
One Special Tax District. There is only one special tax district in this county. I tried to get the people to establish a school district in St. Augustine, but it was voted down.
Larger Tax, Free Books, Etc. I find that seven mills is not enough to run the schools of the State properly, and I am in favor of amending the State Constitution so as to abolish the maximum levy of seven mills and permit school boards to levy enough to operate the schools of the State properly. The cry is for better salaries for teachers, longer school terms, and the people are willing to pay for it; but our State Constitution prevents them from doing so. I am in favor of free school books to resident pupils. We go to great expense to establish and operate schools and many pupils are unable to purchase the tools to work with, namely, books. We might go a little farther and fill in this missing link and save money by it. The school might be ever so good, but if the pupils have no books they cannot have the knowledge properly imparted to them.
Compulsory Law and the One Mill Tax I am in favor of compulsory education, and I feel that it can be operated satisfactorily. I am opposed to the one mill tax.