DES MOINES, IOWA, March 24, 1862
To County Superintendents and Boards of Directors:
Many inquiries have recently been addressed to this office, relative to the power of the Board of Directors to levy a tax for the support of schools under the fourteenth clause of section 16 of Part VIII, of the pamphlet edition of the School laws. We answer that the provision referred to gives them full power to levy such tax, independent of any vote of the district meeting. – Not only so, but it is their imperative duty to levy such tax, when in their judgment it is necessary in order to keep the schools in progress for twenty-four weeks in each year. The district meeting may even vote against a tax for any purpose whatever, and still it would not interfere with the authority vested in the Board of Directors by the clause in question.
The difference between the authority given the district meeting and that conferred upon the Board of Directors is this: The district meeting may vote a tax to keep up the schools for six, eight or twelve months, and in such case it would become the duty of the Secretary to certify the same to the Board of Supervisors, as provided in section 23, of Part VIII; but the Board of Directors must (“shall” is the language of the law) levy such tax as may be necessary, to keep up the schools for twenty four weeks each year. This power is essential – otherwise, they could not comply with the provisions of the law, which require them to have a school taught in each sub-district for the period above named. If, the district meeting should vote the amount required, it would of course be unnecessary for the Board to levy a tax.
To set the matter finally at rest, I would add, that the construction here given was settled by the decision of the Supreme Court, at the December term for 1861, held in this city, in the case of Joseph K. Snyder vs. Samuel Wampler, et al. County Superintendents will please communicate this intelligence with as little delay as possible to the respective boards of directors, in order that it may reach them in time for their regular meeting on the first Saturday after the first Monday in April.
THOMAS H. BENTON, Jr.,
Secretary of the Board
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 1