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TOWNSHIPS AND TOWNSHIP AFFAIRS.
A Series of Governmental Institutions.-"The American citizen lives under not less than five institutions called governments. He is a member of a school district. He is a member of a civil township, a town, or city government. He is a part of a county government. He is ruled over by a State government. He is also under a federal, general, or national government.”—Macy. “Each performs separate, special work, for the good of the people, and all are more or less closely connected with one another."
Governmental Unit.-In these United States, the State represents organized civil society as the governmental unit. The federal government exercises certain powers, which have been given up to it by the States ; powers which concern the welfare of all the citizens of the entire country. The minor divisions of the State-school district, township, and county-exercise only such powers as are permitted
by the State, and in all things are governed by laws enacted by the State legislature.
The township, as here used, means the local division of the county. In some States it is called town, as in New England, in others parish, as in some of the Southern States, but in most States it is called township. Wherever the government system of land survey has been followed it is six miles square, and is divided into squares, with roads regularly laid out. In Pennsylvania they are irregular in size and shape and were arbitrarily laid out for the convenience of the electors in getting to a prescribed voting place. Boundaries are usually determined either by streams, which at times might be impassable, or by the irregular roads which were made from settlement to settlement or from farm to farm, by the early settlers.
School districts, as here used, are the areas under separate local school governments. In some States each school has a separate local government. In other States the several schools of a township constitute a school district.
In Pennsylvania the township or borough is the general school area, except where special areas are allowed, as independent districts, where the people want, and are willing to pay for, better school privi
leges than are afforded by the general township board. In these cases, boundaries are established by order of court, and a separate government allowed.
Origin of State Funds.-In 1787 Congress passed an ordinance known as the “ordinance of 1787," by which, in the territory west of Pennsylvania and north of the Ohio River, including all land ceded to the general government by the several States or colonies and all that should thereafter come into the possession of the United States, every sixteenth section of land should be sold for the benefit of the schools. This gave a fund which, in nearly all of the Western States, helps to support the public schools. *
In the Western States, where the country is laid out in sections, a school house is usually located every two miles on alternate roads, in the center of, each four sections, so that no child ever has more than two miles to walk, which is considered as far as any one should be required to go.
Whatever form of local school government is adopted, the single school system, the mixed system, or the township system, the work done by the local board is nearly the same.
* Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education, shall forever be encouraged.-Ordinance of 1787.
School Directors are township, borough, or city officers to who are committed the educational interests of the district. In Pennsylvania the board consists of six members (except in cities), one third of whom are elected annually, making the term of office three years. The school year begins on the first Monday of June, when the old board settles its affairs, makes its reports, and adjourns; then the new board organizes, newly elected men are sworn in and officers elected, which are president, secretary, and treasurer. School directors are not paid officers, except that the secretary and treasurer may be paid for their special services. Their duty is to make the tax levy (which in some States is done by a county board, in others by a vote of the citizens), repair and build houses as it becomes necessary, fix the length of the school term, the wages of teachers, hire teachers, procure supplies (including text-books), and do all other things necessary to the best interests of the schools.
The funds for the support of the schools in Pennsylvania are received from two sources : A local tax, varying from one half a mill to 26 mills (13 mills for school purposes and 13 mills for building purposes), and an appropriation from State funds, of not less than one million dollars, which the State constitution orders, and which may be increased at the discretion of the State legislature, but cannot be diminished. Last year (1893) it was five million dollars, five and a half million dollars each for the years 1894 and 1895.
CHAPTER VIII. LOCAL OR TOWNSHIP ELECTIONS. Local elections are usually held in the spring of each year, the time varying in different States. In Pennsylvania these elections are held on the third Tuesday of February. On the morning of this day the election officers open the polls, or voting places, and are ready to receive the votes of the qualified electors. Elector, as used here, means voter. (See executive department of national government for presidential electors.)
The qualifications of an elector which shall entitle to a vote are : He must be a male citizen, twentyone years of age; shall have been a citizen of the United States at least one month; shall have resided in the State one year (or if previously a qualified elector, having removed therefrom and returned six months immediately preceding the election), shall have resided in the election district in which he shall offer to vote at least sixty days immediately preceding the election. An elector may vote “on age" during his twenty-first year, without having previously paid taxes, but when twenty-two years old and upwards, he shall have paid within two years a State and county tax, which shall have been