WICOMICO COUNTY, MARYLAND

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

EDUCATION

ORIGIN & FUNCTIONS


BOARD OF EDUCATION

The Wicomico County Board of Education originated in 1816 as the State School Fund Commissioners, which headed the County's new public school system. Later, it reformed and was renamed as the County School Commissioners, and the Board of County School Commisioners.

State School Fund Commissioners. The General Assembly, in 1816, appointed nine commissioners to oversee the State school fund in each county (Chapter 256, Acts of 1816). The commissioners were to "establish a central free school in each election district" and report to the General Assembly on how funds were used. In the colonial period, free schools offered a curriculum that included "Latin, Greek, Writing, and the like" (Chapter 31, Acts of 1694). [It is not clear from the 1816 law if "free" refers to the classical curriculum or the lack of tuition.]

County School Commissioners. In 1825, a statewide public education system was formed (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). Justices of the levy courts in each county appointed nine school commissioners who were to divide the county into school districts. The levy courts also appointed up to eighteen inspectors of primary schools for each county. The inspectors' charge was to examine teachers, issue teacher certificates, visit schools, give suggestions to teachers and school trustees, and report to the county school commissioners. Elected by the voters of each school district, three trustees were to purchase schoolhouse sites, repair and furnish the schoolhouses, and hire all teachers within the district. Authorized to keep records of school commissioner meetings, a district clerk was elected by the voters annually. A district collector collected monies from school taxes.

Board of County School Commissioners. In 1865, the State Board of Education called for a “uniform system of Free Public Schools” (Chapter 160, Acts of 1865). The public school system became centralized; “supervision and control of Public Instruction” was vested in the State Board of Education. The State Board appointed boards of county school commissioners in each county to serve four-year terms. Three years later, boards of county school commissioners regained control and supervision over county schools (Chapter 407, Acts of 1868). The public school system was no longer accountable to the State Board of Education. Within each county, voters elected county school commissioners, from each election district, to two-year terms. These school commissioners had custody over schoolhouse property and were expected to pay teacher salaries.

For all counties, including Wicomico County, the school commissioners reorganized in 1870 (Chapter 311, Acts of 1870). County circuit court judges were to appoint three school commissioners for their respective counties. At the same time, the Board of State School Commissioners, previously named the State Board of Education, was reformed.

In 1892, the Governor gained authority to appoint county school commissioners (Chapter 341, Acts of 1892). By 1900, the Governor was to take into consideration minority party representation when appointing county school commissioners (Chapter 29, Acts of 1900).

Board of Education. County school commissioners were renamed boards of education in 1916 (Chapter 506, 1916). They were to be appointed by the Governor without regard to political affiliation.

Now, the Wicomico County Board of Education oversees educational matters that affect Wicomico County (Code Education Article, secs. 4-101 through 4-126).

Formerly, the Board's seven members were appointed by the Governor to serve five-year terms (Code Education Article, secs. 3-101 through 3-105; 3-108). On November 8, 2016, however, the voters by referendum chose to have an elected Board of Education (Chapter 169, Acts of 2016). Thereafter, on November 6, 2018, the voters first elected seven members (five by district & two at large) to serve four-year terms. The Superintendent of Schools continues to serve as secretary, treasurer, and executive officer of the Board (Code Education Article, sec. 4-102).

For vacancies on the Board of Education, the Wicomico County School Board Nominating Commission selects and recommends nominees to the County Council for appointment (Chapter 169, Acts of 2016).

SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS

Duties of the Superintendent of Schools originally were the responsibility of School Inspectors, then County Examiners, and later the County Superintendent of Public Education.

School Inspectors. The duties of county superintendents of schools first were assigned to school inspectors in 1825 (Chapter 162, Acts of 1825). Levy courts were to appoint annually up to eighteen inspectors of primary schools for each county. The inspectors determined teacher qualifications, examined teachers, and issued teacher certificates. They also were expected to visit schools and offer suggestions to school district trustees. By 1835, the number of inspectors was reduced to three for each county (Chapter 278, Acts of 1835).

County Examiners. In 1868, county examiners assumed all duties of school inspectors, and were expected to serve as secretary, treasurer, and executive agent for county boards of school commissioners (Chapter 407, Acts of 1868). Appointed by boards of county school commissioners, county examiners were to visit each school at least twice a year in counties having 50 or fewer schools. This included Wicomico County. Additionally, they helped organize teacher associations at district, county and State levels, examined teachers in the presence of three county school commissioners, and notified teachers of meetings. By 1870, county examiners were to visit each school three times a year in counties having fewer than 50 schools (Chapter 311, Acts of 1870). Also, they were allowed to examine teacher candidates in the presence of one county school commissioner instead of three.

County Superintendent of Public Education. In 1904, county examiners were renamed county superintendents of public education (Chapter 584, Acts of 1904). Three times a year, they were required to visit each school in counties with 60 or fewer teachers. Twice a year, they went to schools in counties having more than 60 teachers, and once in those counties with more than 175 teachers.

Superintendent of Schools. By 1916, county superintendents of public education were renamed superintendents of schools (Chapter 506, Acts of 1916). The new superintendents were authorized to execute the laws of the State Board, interpret all school laws, and decide disputes of the county boards of education about rules and regulations. In addition, superintendents could recommend to the county boards of education that schools be repaired or condemned. They could nominate all principals and assistant teachers for appointment by the county boards, grade and standardize public schools, create a textbook list, and determine school curriculum. Since 1916, the Superintendent of Schools has been appointed by the Board of Education to four-year terms.

The Superintendent of Schools administers the Wicomico County Public School System. The Superintendent also serves as executive officer, secretary, and treasurer of the Board of Education (Code Education Article, secs. 4-102; 4-201 through 4-206).


[photo, Maner Technology Center, WOR-WIC Community College., Salisbury, Maryland]

WOR-WIC COMMUNITY COLLEGE

Wor-Wic Community College started in 1975 as a postsecondary vocational and technical school for residents of Worcester and Wicomico counties. A two-year public community college, it moved to its present site at Salisbury in 1994.


Maner Technology Center, WOR-WIC Community College., Salisbury, Maryland, June 2018. Photo by Diane F. Evartt.



PUBLIC LIBRARY

Wicomico Public Library originated as a subscription library in 1869. By the early 1900s, the library closed. It restarted in 1916. The Wicomico Public Library opened as the Salisbury-Wicomico Free Public Library in February 1926. As the Wicomico County Free Library, it incorporated in June 1927. At High Street in its own building since 1934, the Library moved to its present main site on Division Street in 1963 and was renamed Wicomico Public Library.

the Library has three branches: Bivalve Station, Centre at Salsibury, and Pittsville.

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