Rise of School Costs Noted

Footnotes to Long Island History

Rise of School Costs Noted

May 19, 1955


Thomas R. Bayles


          In these days of soaring costs of the local schools it may be an interesting comparison to look back at the school collectors’ report for 1890 of the East Middle Island school, District 17.

                   “Middle Island, Aug. 5, 1890.

          “To the people of School District 17 of Brookhaven town.

          “The collector of said school district hereby presents his annual report as follows:

          “Amount on hand August 6, 1889, $38.02; received library money from Supervisor, .55; received Bartlett tax of 1888, $3.80; received amount in tax list of 1889, $197.10, total, $239.47.

          Disbursements were made as follows:

          “Paid Miss V. Hallock for teaching, $151.47; paid Edgar Swezey for 4 cords wood delivered at schoolhouse, $8.00; paid D. F. Raynor for sawing wood, $3.00; paid William Risley for kindling fire 70 mornings at schoolhouse, five cents each time, $3.50; paid bill for painting schoolhouse, $17.29; balance on hand July 26, 1890, $56.21, total, $239.47.

          Henry P. Hutchinson, School collector.”

          The history of District 17 must begin with 1835, the year it was formed as a separate district. Previous to that date its territory was compromised in the two original school districts formed under the State law of 1813.  These original districts were described as “Swezeytown and the northern part of ‘Middletown,” and the other as “The lower part of Middletown as far west as Isaac Howell’s and north to James Dayton’s.”  The schoolhouse in the first District 11 stood by the Presbyterian church, and the second district, No.12, covered all the present district of Yaphank and West Yaphank and the southern part of present District 17.  The schoolhouses at first stood on the east side of the Yaphank road, a quarter of a mile north of the new Yaphank school and opposite the building formerly known as the Yaphank hotel.

          The school in District 17 was located on a triangular piece of common land acquired from the town, one and one-quarter acres in area just south of middle Country road.  This building was fitted with a desk running around the outside of the room and fastened to the wall, with benches of oak planks with rough legs.  These were discarded and modern double desks placed in the room in 1889.  In 1928 the district abandoned the old schoolhouse that had been in use nearly 100 years and built a new one costing $19,000 further south on the Yaphank road, which is in use at present.

          Amounts raised for school purposes in different years show how the cost has increased, ears between 1880 and 1890 it was $150 yearly, 1900 raised $200, 1910 raised $275, 1919 raised $600, 1921 raised $1,000.  1925 raised $1,500, and in 1929, $5,200, when the new school building was erected. Now the annual budget for the school in the same building is over $28,000.

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