HISTORY OF LEON COUNTY SCHOOLS

Education in Leon County began with the establishment of a private school, the Leon Academy for Boys, in 1821. This was four years prior to the incorporation of Tallahassee. The Leon Academy for Girls, also a private school, was established in 1831. However, it was not until 1856 that the first public school was opened at Woodville. The first Lincoln High School was opened in 1876 and served grades 1 through 12. This school was closed in 1970. The new Lincoln High School opened in 1975-76 and serves grades 9 through 12. The first large elementary school, Caroline Brevard, was built in 1924. The original Caroline Brevard building was eventually sold to the State and the money from the sale was used to construct the present Caroline Brevard. In 1934, the district purchased from the Primitive Baptist Church of Florida what was then called Griffin College, a private, boarding institution for grades 1 through 12. In 1955, the new Griffin Junior High was completed and occupied on the ten-acre site where it now stands. The school, which is now a middle school, has also been an elementary school. In 1972, the administration moved from the courthouse to the present site on Pensacola Street.

 Local efforts for a kindergarten program began in 1905 when a law suggested by the Tallahassee Womanís Club was introduced and passed by the Legislature. The first public kindergarten provided in Leon County, in 1916, cost $1,600 to build and equip. Kindergartens were discontinued at Caroline Brevard and Sealey in 1941. The present kindergarten program was initiated in 1968 with 21 classes in 11 schools.

 Many of the earlier schools were small frame buildings. Through a gradual consolidation program the total number of schools was reduced from:

 Year

Schools

 1896

77

 1940

52

 1976

31

 1982

32 (19 elementary; 6 middle; 4 senior high; 1 alternative school; 1 vocational/technical center; and 1 exceptional child center)

1998

35 (22 elementary, 8 middle, 4 high school, 1 alternative school, 1 vocational/technical center; and many district-wide program centers.)

1997-98 Student enrollment:

PK-5 . . . . . . . 15,702

9-12 . . . . . . . . . 8,586

6-8 . . . . . . . . . . . 7,150

District-wide. . 4,606

 

Public funds expended for education reflect the growth of population, public interest in providing education for all interested citizens and the upsurge of the economic life of the county, state, and country. The picture of the trend in total expenditures for education in Leon County is as follows:

 Year

Amount

 1856

$ 2,500

 1930

$ 151,776

 1950

$ 3,000,000

 1970

$ 24,000,000

 1975

$ 30,000,000

 1981

$ 51,000,000

1998

$264,246,000

Since 1868, 17 individuals have served as the Superintendent of the Leon County Schools. The present Superintendent, Bill Montford, has been in office since November of 1996. Superintendent Montford is the eleventh superintendent to serve since 1917 so there have been long periods of operation under the same leadership, giving some stability to the system.

 In 1975, and consistent with subsequent State of Florida statute guidelines (the Educational Accountability Act of 1976), Leon County initiated work towards performance-based promotional requirements. This policy was implemented K-5 in 1980, and K-6 in 1981, with extension to seventh and eight grades proposed for 1982. Parallel to implementing the promotional requirements for students, the district implemented a plan for assessing student progress in the basic skill areas (using nationally normed tests, 1976-; using skill-based master tests, 1979-) and regular reporting to parents on student progress over the basic skills and promotional standards. Preliminary efforts required establishing a uniform scope and sequence of skills in reading, language arts and math from which consistent objectives in basic skills were set district wide, and upon which basic skills promotional requirements were based, K-8.

 The Leon County Teacher Education Center was established in 1974, as a collaborative effort of district teachers and administrators, Florida State University and Florida A&M University Colleges of Education. The purpose of the centerís program includes the identification of staff development and teacher education needs and the facilitation of activities and resources to meet these needs.

 The first Community School was begun in 1974. That year we had seven elementary; one high school; one program county-wide that serves children and adults with disabilities; and five after-school elementary programs.

 The Leon School Volunteers were formerly organized in February 1970, with planning starting in 1969. The program began with approximately 200 volunteers giving service to six pilot schools: Astoria Park, Bond, Concord, Riley, W.T. Moore, and Griffin. Today the program extends into all schools with over 3,200 volunteers, giving over 75,000 hours of volunteer service to the schools system.

 In 1977, using State OCO Grant funds, a closed circuit Instructional Television distribution system was implemented.

 Contracted public transportation began for white children in 1901. The first school bus was purchased by the county and put into operation between 1922-24. Transportation was provided for black children in 1947. In 1981-82, there were 12,061 registered bus riders being transported over 10,500 miles daily on 106 buses.

 The first school lunch program began at Sealey Elementary School in 1932, on a concession basis. Federal aid for school lunch began in the 1940's. School lunch supervisors were employed in 1952, for black schools and in 1953, for white schools. This year we serve approximately 13,500 lunches and 3,500 breakfasts (1,500 a la carte). Breakfast is served in all schools. By 1990 there were 16 schools on the satellite program and 15 on the self-contained program.

 In 1970, the Department of Student Services developed the "Studentís Rights and Responsibilities" Handbook. In 1980-81, Leon County Student Services developed a model program for dealing with student truancy Ė "Operation Spring Fever." In 1981-82, the Department of Student Services established the first detention center for students and established the "School Resource Officer".

 Teacher qualifications have been raised through the years. In 1957, all elementary teachers had certificates of Rank III or above except one. Thirty-two percent of the 1971-72 elementary staff had masterís degrees or higher. At present, forty-three percent of the elementary staff have masterís degrees or higher. The beginning teacher salary for:

 

Year

Amount

 1961-62

$ 3,600.00

 1971-72

$ 6,210.00

 1981-82

$ 11,050.00

1997-98

$23,681.00

 

In keeping with a court order, Leon District Schools are now merged into a unified school system. A mass movement of teachers was accomplished in February, 1970, and the student population underwent movement to the court-approved school zones the following September. The court order has since been lifted. School zones have been maintained. Minor adjustments have been made to a few elementary zones.

 The elementary schools were accredited system-wide by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 1962. Leon County was the third Florida county to achieve this status. The first local high school to be accredited was Leon High in 1919. As new high schools have been constructed, accreditation has been achieved. In 1964, the Leon District accreditation grades 1 through 12. We have maintained system wide accreditation to date.

 Leon County Schools are fully networked, with the ability to access and share resources over the Internet. We are recognized as a state and national leader in our implementation of technological resources and automated systems.