A drawing of the “Little White
School House” as it was referred to, was the first school
house built soon after the town was plotted in 1834. It was built
on the north side of what is now the Memorial grounds. It was in
that school that William McKinley, the future president, received
his first formal education.
In those days, custom required that
boys and girls sat on opposite sides of the room. They sat on long
benches fronted with a sloping shelf that formed a desk. The teacher’s
desk was a more distinctive affair, standing on a platform opposite
the door. Behind the teacher’s desk was a blackboard.
Teachers boarded in the homes of pupils,
bringing them in close contact with the parents, and enabling the
less affluent to defray a good part of their school costs in this
way. Books were scarce, highly prized, and usually well preserved,
since successive members of the family were expected to use them.
In 1842 with the growing population,
it became necessary to construct a second school house near the
north east corner of Leslie and Linden Avenues.
In 1870 a three story school(Union
School then Central School) was built and opened in 1871 with six
teachers. The school was located on State Street where the Central
Apartments are presently located. It was described as “the
best in the county”. By 1890 the average teacher’s salary
was $45.00 a month. Parents paid term tuition for each child of
80 cents for primary grades, $1.20 for grammar school, and $1.80
for high school.
By 1914 the new McKinley (Edison)
High School was built, on Church Street between Arlington and Chestnut
Avenues, because the Central School was not large enough to accommodate
the growing student population.