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[THE CARDIFF SCHOOL BOARD.

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THE CARDIFF SCHOOL BOARD. No. 2.-TAXATION. [BY SENEX.] In the former article I dealt with the question of the lavish expenditure of the Cardiff School Board, and the intolerable burthen it will prove to the ratepayers for the next 50 years, whose credit has been pledged by that board already to the extent of L300,000, and which will, without doubt, un- less a change in the constitution of the board takes place, be, within the next fcur or five years, pledged to the extent of half-a-million of money for school buildings alone. Under tbe system of voluntary education, the entire school accommodation now provided by the School Board would have been provided for £ 4-0,000, but the School Board has expended on their school build-, ings nearly £ 140,000. Much of the evil arising from lavish expenditure springs from the facts that the money so spent is not their own and the re- payment is made by" easy instalments," extending over 50 years. Men of business habits ought never to have fallen into such a trap, for they must have been well aware that money borrowed at 3t per cent. to be re-paid in 50 years 2 more than doubles itself in that period, and for every JElOOsoobtained about L220 would be re-paid. This evil is only now beginning to make itself apparent. The School Board tax has been growing so quietly that the ratepayers of the town have not observed the vast proportions it is assuming. The School Board issues its precepts twice a year on the mayor and corporation, and they, in turn, transfer them to the overseers of the several parishes included in the School Board district. The money so required is collected with the poor- rate, and is included in it. From 1875 to 1877 the sum of 12,850 was paid by the borough treasurer to the treasurer of the School Board for School Board purposes. From 1877 to 1880 the sum so paid was A;9,337, and thus the precepts had grown in three years from £ 1,425 annually to L3,112 annually. In 1881 the precepts amounted to 1;6,000, an increase of £3,000 in one year. In 1882 they were £ 8,200, in 1883 L10,000, in 1884 £ 12,000, and in 1885 £ 13,000, with every probability that those for 1886 will reach nearly £ 15,000. As this money is collected with the poor-rate and included in it, every person who is not an inmate of the workhouse or some charitable institution contributes toward it. Of the £ 13,000 received from the School Board pre- cepts last year ze6,000 went in the re-payment of loans borrowed for the erection of the school buildings. For this sum a school with ample ac- commodation for 1,000 children could be erected, and if economy had been exercised, and money ex- pended direct from the rates, the whole of the school accommodation required by the Education Department would have Deen provided in seven years, without incurring a single farthing of debt or pledging the credit of the rates to the extent of half a million of money. Now the ratepayers of Cardiff have, theoretically, to build a school for 1,000 children every year for the next fifty years. I will now endeavour to show the injustice of this tax. In the first place, the Higher Grade School ought never to have been built. It is in- tended to accommodate 800 children. There are at present on the school registers 308 boys and 181 girls, all of them children of parents who can well afford to pay for their education, and who ought not, therefore, to be attending a rate-aided school. According to Professor Jayne, the State and the ratepayers pay three-fourths of the cost of the education of every child attending an elementary school if so, the poorer classes of ratepayers are now compelled to pay three-fourths of the cost of educating the children attending this school, and whose parents, compared with themselves, reside in large houses and live in affluence. Besides this the School Board deprives of their means of livelihood as many school teachers as would be required to educate these children who, without tins Higher Grade School, would have been educated at private venture" schools, and where the cost of their education would have fallen on the parents alone. Exclusive of the Higher Grade School, the School Board provides accommodation for 7,500 children, but of this number nearly one half are the children of parents who can afford to pay for their children's education, and who did do so until the School Board system came into operation, and thereby a spirit of independence was destroyed which was of the greatest value to them. The actual cost of the education of every child attend- ing a Board School averages £ 117s. lid. a year. To meet this the parent pays 9s. lOd. annually in the shape of school tees. The ratepayer pays, in addition to the costs on the school buildings, 16s., and the Government grant amounts to 18s. Id., so that the parent pays least of all, and for every penny the parent pays the country pays three- pence, and a large proporlion of that threepence comes out of the pockets of those who derive no benefit whatever from the Board Schools. The elementary education of the children of Cardiff is pretty nearly equally divided between the Board and Voluntary Schools, the latter providing school accommodation for 7,000 children. The parents of those children who attend the Voluntary Schools pay for three- fourths of the education of the children attending the Board Schools, and, in addition, three-fourths of the cost of educating their own children, the one-fourth being made up by the Government grant. This is a matter which must press very neavily on the whole of the Irish population of Cardiff, nine-tenths of whom belong to the labour- ing classes, and not one of whom sends a child to a. Board School. It also presses very heavily, though, perhaps, not so heavily, on large numbers who are not Irish, but who prefer, from religious j and other causes, to send their children to the Voluntary Schools. Taking the population ol Cardiff, as estimated by the Registrar-treneral, at 96,000, there will be 16,000 children of school age. Not one-half of these children attend the Board Schools, and, therefore, the School Board tax is paid by a larger number of the parents ot children who do not derive any advantage from the School Board system than by those who do. It may be said, This is law. So it is; but the law supposes that the utmost care should be exercised in the expendi- ture of money to which all are called upon to con- tribute their i harc. The Cardiff School Board has never exercised that economy from its establish- ment. In the last report issued by the School Board of Cardiff there is this paragraphDuring the past three years the School Attendance Committee sat fortnightly. Tho fullest opportunity was given to parents to explain the cause of their children's abtence or irregularity. From timo to time a large uumber accepted this opportunity. Their explanations, involving too often disclosures of great poverty, trouble, and suffering, were patiently heard, and in not a few cases made pro- secutions before the magistrates unnecessary or useless." This alone should have convinced the School Board of the absolute inhumanity of dragging one penny more from the pockets of such people than was really required; and very similar cases came, no doubt, before the managers of Voluntary Schools; and yet during the three years 171 persons, chiefly, if not entirely, of the poorest claases, were fined for not sending their children to school; 99 warrants of distress were issued, and six commitments to prison. The fines paid amounted to f,19 5., but the cost, of these proceedings amounted to il34 63. 6d. Here is one case out of many. A few days ago a boy named William Taylor, the son of parents occupying one room in a wretched house in Tyndall-street, was brought by one of the school attendance officers before Mr. R. O. Jones, the stipendiary magistrate at Cardiff. He had been found wandering about the streets during school hours, begging for bread at people's houses. He was only nine yearn of ase, yet he was sent out by his parents to sell matches, when he could get them, and they beat him if he re- turned home without money. He lived on what people gave him at their houses, and when taken to the police-station was eating a crust of bread which had just been given to him. He had 011 a pair of trousers the ends of which, festooned in rags, descended only a little below the knees. The sleeves of his jackct were similarly festooned at the ends by wear. These were secured round him by a cord, and he had uot on a particle of clothing besides. His father had been out of employment for eighteen weeks, but he had been fined 5s. for not sending his children to school. He, his wife, and live children lived in one room, and the police-constable said that there was only an old mattress on the floor, a table in the centre of the room, but nothing more. Chairs, bedstead, everything, had gone for food, and the children when they slept there must sleep un the floor; and yet that man had, when in employ- ment, contributed his quota to the education cf children attending the Higher Grade School. The policeman who served the School Board sum- monses did not consider this a very bad case, but said he had met with others where the destitution wits even greater. The boy was sent to the Havannah Ship School for five years, where ho will be maintained and clothed at the expense of tho country. Under the circumstances the School Board officer did a wise thing in bringing such a case before the magistrates; but what can be said of a School Board lavishly expending money in the useless ornamentation of their school buildings when such persons as the parents of this boy have to contribute to the cost ? There is also another point to which reference might be made under the head of taxation. If the voiuntary system provide education for as many children as the School Board system, then, without the Voluntary Schools, the School Board tax would be nearly doubled, and yet, from the first, the managers of the Voluntary Schools were placed in unfair competition when the School Board opened, in c!ose proximity to them, more costly school buildings, and fitted them up with machinery the cost of which the Voluntary School funds would not permit. It is much to the credit of t he managers of the Voluntary Schools that they are able to hold their own against such a powerful opposition, but it is to be feared that, like the private venture schools, their days are numbered I and then the Cardiff School Board tax will press with double force on the ratepayers of the tov. n.

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