History of Schools in Campbell County

Submitted by Ken Reis
President of the Campbell County Historical Society and retired school teacher from the Campbell County Schools.

The beginnings of education as we know it today started with the first schools held in peoples homes.  At that time teachers then with the family.  Beginning in 1789 the Kentucky Legislature started to establish public academies.  The three for Campbell County were Newport Seminary (Academy) in Newport; Cold Spring Seminary, later the Walnut Hills Academy in Cold Spring; and Beech Grove Seminary (Academy) in California on Smith Road.  Each school was given land to sell or use to provide funding.

In 1829 the entire county had but 17 schools with 2600 children of school age, but only 453 going to school.  Teachers usually lived with a family and made $188 a year.  School terms lasted 3-6 months, with the term lengthened to 8 months only after the turn of the century.  Textbooks were small and simple.

In 1834 a convention was held in Lexington to establish a state wide system of common schools which were to be free for the poor white male children and to provide free text books.  In 1836 a state school superintendent was appointed and in 1837 was the first time the state allocated 1 million dollars to be used solely for education.

In 1838 each county was surveyed into school districts.  The guidelines used were that each school in the county was to be within walking distance of home.  Three miles was the criteria used.  There were at least 42 one or two room individual rural schools established.  School commissioners were established to choose books, hire and fire teachers, collect taxes, issue certificates, and maintain school buildings at a salary of $100 a year.  Later the commissioner became a local superintendent and each school district had five trustees that oversaw that particular school.

In 1851 the Campbell County Female College was established, but little is known about it.  Up to this act of the legislature, school was for boys and girls were not permitted to attend.  Up to the Civil War, the school system remained the same, but the war left a lot of schools in disarray, ultimately closing the Walnut Hill Academy.  Also about this time, came the large German immigration into the area and along with this came the private school connection with the churches-the Catholic Schools.  So as the academies faded out, the Catholic Schools again provided a second choice for the people of Campbell County to educate their children.

By 1888 county superintendents were fairly well established and the "common graded school" was well established.  The first superintendents were;
B K Rachford
J Stewart
U S Dunn
W W White
John W Reiley (1906-1941)

In 1908 the state mandated that every county maintain a public high school, but Campbell County had founded the Campbell County High School in 1906..  In 1912 compulsory attendance laws were passed and the final major change was in 1934-36, when the "common school code" was adopted making all districts consolidate their one-room schools.  Buses were added and our present school system evolved.

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