Hurrah for Morgan Mill!
From Gene Williams’ book, Hurrah for Morgan Mill, one can find a brief history of the common schools of Erath County. He states, “The common schools of Texas, those schools controlled by their own elected Board of Trustees, were established by the School Act of 1854.
No state or county funding was provided, so in order to pay the teacher, pupils were charged tuition, usually a ‘dollar a scholar’, and students had to provide their own books. A new state law was enacted in 1870 that offered free public education in Texas.
This system of governing schools was very unpopular, so in 1875 the legislature introduced a new law that created community schools with a tax based on local, not state, authority.
In 1890 another school law was enacted that permitted school districts to vote a local tax for school purposes. The average rate was 10 cents per $100 property evaluation.
The history of the first Morgan Mill School begins on March 21, 1879 when two acres of land was deeded to the community for school purposes. According to Gene Williams, no information was found that indicates the date when the first school house was built, but it was probably about 1879.
It was a plank building that had a second floor and the upper floor was used by the Morgan Mill Masonic Lodge. The Morgan Mill School remained at this location until 1906 when a new two story school was constructed on the present four and one-half acres.
This building was destroyed by fire in 1918. A four room, limestone rock school building was then built on the same location. Several additions were added to this building until 1935 when the WPA, Works Progress Administration, took on the construction of a new building.
The WPA approved fund totaling $33,531.00 and the local school district was to supply $13,296 in funds. Gene continues his story of the area school discussing Cantrell School, Tennessee School, Hancock School, North Paluxy School, Pleasant Ridge School, Goober Hill School, and Germany School of which are no longer in existence.
Last Sunday, the Empire–Tribune ran an article on Bluff Dale Schools that got a lot of residents concerned with the Morgan Mill School. Could the same thing happen here? The Robin Hood plan that became law in Texas in 1993 was to provide money to local communities that were property poor. Bluff Dale with the creation of Mountain Lakes subdivision became the 80th richest school district in the state.
In 2015 Bluff Dale gave the state $412,931 to the state to help those disadvantaged districts. In Morgan Mill our “recaptured money” was approximately $11,000. Barrett Hutchison, Principal of Morgan Mill School, is watching the happenings in Bluff Dale closely. He states, “In Morgan Mill, we are ‘safe’ now. We have a healthy “rainy day” fund. We are not having to dip into that fund for our expenses.” This is all good to know.