Newark's first school was opened in 1676 by the first settlers. It was located on the south side of Market Street, about 50 yards from Halsey Street. Around this time a doctrine of compulsory education with penalties for neglect to pay school rates was introduced. Another record shows a town school being started "in ye middle of ye towne" in the fall of 1714
The College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) became successful through the personal efforts of the Rev. Aaron Burr. He conducted the classical school at its first location, in the First Presbyterian Church, which opened on November 9, 1747. The school remained in Newark until 1755, when it moved to Princeton, New Jersey.
May, 1775 saw the town vote for one and a half acres of land to be occupied by an academy. This school was plundered and burned by the British army. The rebuilding of the school took place in 1792 at Broad and Academy Streets. The United States Government took over the school building in 1855 for use of a post office and custom house. I'll have further details on the Newark Academy (which still exists) at a future date.
The nineteenth century saw the achievement of the school system as it is now know. In 1814 a committee was appointed by the town to provide for the education of poor children. 1822 saw the Female Union established by charitable women and sustained by public money. The support of the common school system was started in 1828 with the legislature making appropriations for education in the amount of $20,000. An election of a school committee was held in 1836 under the city charter. It also gave the council authority to raise money by taxation for the support of the public schools. Four schools were opened in 1838 and the first board of education was organized in 1851.
The Newark Summer Schools were organized in 1885 and in 1910, 25% of the eligible children attended. At the turn of the century, the Newark Board of Education attempted to place school buildings on sites that were large enough for ample play space. Those pre-existing schools that didn't have this space were enlarged by the purchase of adjoining property. These new schools were built with the most modern ideas in architecture.
From: "Newark, the Metropolis of New Jersey" Published by the Progress Publishing Co. 1901
Five school buildings were used when the Board of Education was established in 1851. In their first decade, 1851 to 1860, 7 more were erected. The Civil War stopped nearly all advancement, only one new building being constructed. From 1866 to 1872, 12 schools were added to the list. The came the financial panic of 1873 and no building was done by the city until 1880. From 1880 to 1890 11 more were erected and from 1890 to 1900, 15 additional structures were built and 11 properties rented.
From: Essex County, NJ, Illustrated 1897
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