By Audrey Schiesser | Local Happenings
Stories Inspired From "History of Scioto County"
Hello and welcome back to the fourth edition of Way Back Wednesday’s where we are aiming to highlight the amazing and vast history that is within our county! This week we are taking a look at segments of “Education In Scioto County”, courtesy of the “History of Scioto County” by the Portsmouth Area Recognition Society.
This story is broken into three separate categories and we will cover all three categories over three weeks: county schools, city schools, and parochial schools. From humble beginnings of puncheon floors, split-log seats and desks to match, schools have somehow progressed to today’s very sophisticated learning centers.
Many are complete with contour seats, carpeted or tile floors, and computerized teaching aids. In less than 180 years Scioto County education has progressed from virtually nothing to a broad-based opportunity for almost everyone, ranging from academic, technical, vocational, and college programs.
County Schools “Just Happened”
County schools, not unlike Topsy if anyone remembers that far back, seem to have "just happened" until around 1914 when the Ohio School Code provided for county school districts with boards of education and superintendents. Before that there were 24 school districts in the county, and they left few records of their growth.
The present county system, developed as a result of the 1914 Code, has to be credited to a great extent to the efforts of the late E.O. McCowen, the first superintendent. McCowen was selected to the position in June 1914, when presidents of the 24 districts (all independent) gathered to implement the mandate of the new Code. They selected the board which chose McCowen for the task of conforming to the new rules and regulations.
What was to become a long-time assignment began with 108 one-room schools; two 4-year high schools (Wheelers-burg and Lucasville) and three two-year high schools (New Boston, South Webster and Green Township). There were 19 districts without high schools. In fact, total high school enrollment in 1914 was only 180, reflecting still the lack of concern for more than basic reading, writing and arithmetic.
Generally, conditions were poor, and many students couldn't afford to travel to Portsmouth or one of the other high schools. Eighth grade was the end for many.
Salary increases — to as high as $160 a month in 1920 —free textbooks, school tax levies and longer terms combined to give more attention to the schools. Consolidation made it easier to offer high school, and by 1926 South Webster, Green, Minford, McDermott, Otway and Rarden had four-year programs. From 1926 to 1937 high school enrollment in the county doubled.
The 1984-85 records, by district and schools are: BLOOM — Vernon 312, Scioto Furnace 114, South Webster 291 and Bloom High School 511.