Pike County Express - August 29, 2012 - Pg. 20
Contributed by Billie Browning
Perhaps the most significant step following World War II in Pike County was school reorganization in 1947-49.
In October of 1947, a committee of Russell Keys, Alfred Glaus, Edgar Johnson, Earl Kendrick, Charles Casteel, Eva Gay, W. B. Ramsey, V. J. Galloway and Virgil Durham presented two proposals to the public.
One was for a county system. -- It got nowhere.
The other was for four districts including (with high school and grade school enrollments):
No. 1 - High schools in Barry, Kinderhook and New Canton, with Baylis closed and the burned out Hull school not replaced. 306 and 791.
No. 2 - High schools in Griggsville, Perry, Chambersburg and grade schools at New Salem and Valley City. 208 and 610
No. 3 - High schools in Pittsfield and Milton with grade schools there and in Detroit. 416 and 804
No. 4 - High schools in Pearl, Nebo and Pleasant Hill, with grade schools there and in Atlas and Rockport. 263 and 691
Some country schools would remain open in all districts.
This proposal presumed that the county would eventually have only four high schools Pittsfield, Barry, Griggsville and Pleasant Hill.
-- It got nowhere.
When the shuffling was over the Pikeland and West Pike districts were created and district boundaries redrawn for, Barry, Pleasant Hill, Griggsville, Perry and Chambersburg.
The Burg merged with Meredosia in 1952-53 and districts then remained unchanged 43 years until Griggsville and Perry merged in 1995-96. Within those boundaries schools have disappeared in Atlas, Rockport, Summer Hill, Baylis, New Salem, Detroit, Chambersburg, Milton, Pearl and Nebo.
Perry was the last community to give up its independent school system. Its history dramatically illustrates the trends that caused consolidation.
According to Perry historianGwen Woods, Perry had some type of school since 1830, six years before the village was chartered. It graduated its first high school class in 1879, organized its first basketball team in 1905 or 1906.
In 1880 Perry and Fairmount were organized into 14 elementary districts, with 620 students. In 1995, when the Perry high school and grade school districts dissolved, they had 134.
The last of the little country schools to close were Fishhook and Martinsburg, which closed sometime after 1957. I'm not sure of the year.
The four-high school prophecy became a reality in 2007. In the election of April 17, 2007, the Barry and West Pike school districts voted by a resounding 938-264 count to consolidate. It was their third attempt to merge. In the previous proposals, West Pike had rejected the idea the first time and Barry had nixed it the second time. But this time there was widespread acceptance of the claim that this would create more opportunities for the area's children. Pike County has, since 1949, seen 165 school districts shrink to four plus a fragment of the Meredosia-Chambersburg district.
The above information was compiled by Steve Boze from "An Introduction to Pike County, Illinois" by Thomas Coulson, editor of the Pike County Express.