The many schools of Warren County

It is difficult to talk education in Warren County without talking school buildings.

And while the debate will probably continue on the four vs. two vs. one issue, we can certainly agree on the fact that 173 schools is too many.

That’s exactly what Warren County had in 1873.

The Warren County Historical Society shared a couple pages of a text entitled the History of Early Warren Schools with the Times Observer that give fascinating snapshots into what education in the county looked like in 1861 and 1873.

Looking at 1861 first – the first year of the Civil War – there were a total of 158 schools located in Warren County educating a total of 2,572 male students and 2,240 female students. Interestingly, the report indicates that the average attendance was 3,671.

Leading the way with the most schools was Deerfield Township with 16 schools and Sugar Grove Township with 12.

Columbus, Farmington and Pine Grove also were in double digits.

And while the population center of the county is Warren today, that wasn’t the case in 1861.

The Borough of Warren at that point had just five schools in 1861 and actually educated fewer students than the schools in Sugar Grove, Pine Grove and Deerfield.

A total of 212 teachers were employed in the county – roughly three to one women to men – though the average salary of a male teacher was significantly higher – $27.72 monthly to $17.79 for women.

The schools were open for varying amount of times, as well. Schools were open on average five to seven months a year, though some were open on average just four months a year.

The population in 1860 was 19,190 so there were more students in the county when than there are today with double the population.

Looking at 1873, the population had grown to nearly 24,000 by 1870 and the number of students exceeded 6,000 with the average attendance of over 4,000.

Schools in 1873 were open on average for just over six months a year and there were 230 female teachers to just 43 males, though the monthly salary deficiency hadn’t changed.

The number of schools grew as well to 175 1/2, though it isn’t clear what a half school meant.

That number of schools equals one school for every 3,278 acres of land in the county.

The ratio in 2019?

Approximately one public school for every 82,200 acres. Oh, the benefits of modern transportation!


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