Scott County Historical Society
Scott County, Virginia
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THE KINGSPORT TIMES,
KINGSPORT, TENNESSEE, SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 1936
FEW FLAYED BY SCHOOL BOARD
COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD SMITES RADICAL ELEMENT SEEKING CONTROL
Misappropriation of School Funds; Says Books Open to Inspection
FRANK D. RULE (Kingsport Times Staff Writer)
CITY, Va., March 28.—A new angle on the Scott county school situation
came to the forefront today as the school board struck point blank at its
opponents with bared fangs and turned thumbs down on any and all proposals
to oust W. D. Smith as county school superintendent.
The sphinx-like attitude taken by the board, was unmasked here long
enough for the board to defend its action and at the same time cast a few
aspersions of its own.
The action against it, members of the board declared, is being
taken by a "disgruntled few, seeking to further their own political
ambitions, who do not have strength enough to further these ends in an
election of the people."
A small group of the radical element of the Democratic party is
seeking control of the Scott county situation, they said. Charges
preferred against the board are unfounded and have been brought without
cause, the board contends.
Every question, the board claims, asked by
the supervisors at the meeting early this week, was answered to the
satisfaction of the supervisors and to the public at large.
The board declared that its record was above board and open to the public at all times for inspection.
The political feud between the two factions, it was pointed out,
dates back prior to the World war. In
1914 a school building program was instituted. High schools were erected
in all sections of Scott County.
This, the board said, incurred an indebtedness of $266.000 to the
tax payers of the county. Shortly after this the United States became
the war. Then peace time and the lull that followed the war.
People of Scott county were unable to meet taxes. Delinquent taxes
began to pile up thus preventing the board at that time from meeting its
obligations on the school bonds. Taxes
have never been collected sufficiently since that time to meet the bonded
indebtedness of the schools they say.
This has been blamed on the present school board, members said,
again being brought to the front because of personal animosity of a few,
seeking to lead the public to believe the debt is the direct result of the
action of the present board.
This enmity was stirred up in the party ranks by a minority who,
board members said, pay a minimum tax to Scott county.
Low Operating Cost
defending" its action the board pointed to its record that Scott
county uses less money, per capita, than any county in the state for the
maintenance of its schools. The school levy is slightly more than $13 of
the present tax rate. Lee county, the second lowest in the
is better than $19.
The county's appropriation for schools, the board said, is $42,000,
while adjoining counties are more than double this amount.
At the same time educational facilities are of the highest
standard, board members declared, with the best teachers available
furnishing their services to the county.
State officials have had high praise for the unusual results gained
from Scott county schools at such a low cost, they aver.
"The board," one member said, "feels that the people
of Scott county have received dollar for dollar value on funds expended on
Scott county schools."
The board did not deny that it has shifted funds from one budgetary
to another. They declared this was done when occasions demanded it, but
that the funds had been replaced.
In most instances,
they claim, opponents have gone into questions haphazardly
where there was no foundation.
The board declared emphatically that it will not ask W. D. Smith to
resign as superintendent of Scott county schools.
50 Years Service
Smith" they said, "has given his entire life to the elevation
and promotion of education in Scott County. He has spent 50 years in
the office and has refused better jobs. Now that he is ill and has
but one year to serve, the board
feels that it would be very unfair to make such a request."
The efforts to
have Mr. Smith ousted, they charge, is so great that opponents are sparing
no one in order to remove him from office. The move to have the
supervisors office abolished is an indirect thrust through
A. S. Noblin to force him out of office. Knowing of Mr. Smith's physical
condition, they said, the radical element realizes that Mr. Smith would be
unable to handle the duties of the office at this time. He would be forced
When interviewed at his home near Yuma, Va., this morning, Mr.
Smith emphatically denied that any funds had been misappropriated in the
school superintendent's office or that he had received any compensations,
other than his salary, for his services.
"There; have been irregularities in the office," Mr.
Smith said, "but
He went on to say that former clerks who had misused funds had
"Scott county has a school board made up of men of integrity,
Agrees With Board
He concurred in the contention of the board that the situation now
Questions presented to the board at its meeting Monday were
questions and answers are as follows:
Do you propose to accept our recommendations as to the cutting from your
proposed budget, appropriations for a school supervisor and supplementary
salary for W. D. Smith?
No. We do not propose to cut it out.
Do you propose to conduct your business in accordance with the laws
enacted by the legislature of Virginia, or do you propose to continue your
business in accordance with your own laws?
We have always conducted the office in accord with the state
How many buses does the school board own? How much did you pay for each?.
How much does it cost to run them each year?
How many are under contract? How does the cost of the two compare?
The board owns four buses, seven are under contract. As to the cost that
information is on record and open to the inspection of the public. We do
not have the information available at this time. We have found that the
operation of buses under contract is cheapest and the board is gradually
working to that end.
How much money has the school board expended for the CWA, and FERA
projects? From what items in your budget did you take these funds? Did you
not have enough money appropriated to operate the school buses for the
entire year if you did not use this money for other purposes?
Off-hand the figures are not available. They are on record and can be had.
However, the county has built four new buildings with 45 per cent of the
money furnished by the federal government. Four have been repaired and
painted with 70 per cent being furnished by the government and, the
grounds of six schools have been beautified with the cost of the
supervision the only expense to the county. We did have enough to operate
Do you propose to have your meeting in open in the courtroom, and have
your claims presented and approved before the public, or do you propose to
continue your system of holding your meetings behind closed doors?
We propose to hold them in way to the best advantage of the county.
However, after the meeting, the minutes are open for inspection to show
any action taken by the board.
What system of purchasing supplies do you have? Do you allow bus drivers
to buy gas as they need it, and charge same to the school board.
Drivers are allowed to purchase gas, but must obtain a sworn
statement from the service station. Drivers
are checked and when found to be too extravagant an investigation is made.
Do you make any effort to buy your supplies at wholesale prices?
We certainly do, except in emergency cases when a small amount of
any certain supply is needed.
When your employees or representative buys supplies does your clerk give
orders to the merchants to see these articles, or do your representatives
buy what they want at any time?
The purchases are okayed by the board or superintendent.
When was W. D. Smith last at his office?
In January. He was ill at
that time and unable to be there then. He has kept in close contact with
the office at all times.
How often does he visit schools?
He is unable to visit them now. He visited them often when he was able.
11. How often does A.
S. Noblin visit schools?
As often as he can. Many have been visited as high as four times this year and
two schools have been visited never before visited by any other
When tuition was being collected, did Mr. W. D. Smith deposit
money in the bank in his own name? Did Mr. Smith use this money for his
No. Mr. Smith did not deposit this money in his own name.
A sworn affidavit can be obtained if necessary. It was deposited
under a "tuition" account then turned over to the county
Why do you not comply with the law by depositing school money
The board does not charge incidental fees. Certain individual
In 1925 the school board sold $20.000 worth of bonds, the money derived
from the sale of these bonds was to be divided among the several districts
of the county. How did you distribute this money among the various
districts? What was it spent for? If
spent for teachers it was not spent properly, because funds from the state
are sufficient to pay the teachers.
These bonds were only refunded, according to the state statute, at a lower
rate of interest in order to save money for taxpayers of Scott County.
Does the county supply Mr. Smith with his coal at any time?
No. It does not.
Did the county place a gasoline pump at his home and furnish
It did not.
Did Mr. Smith pay the county for a dozen or more rolls of woven wire
fencing used on his farm? These
rolls of wire were charged to the Scott County School Board.
This wire was not charged to the school board. What was purchased went to
the Strong school building.
18. The school board
or W. D. Smith has been collecting rent on an old school building on the
Taylor property, near the home of Mr. Smith. Has this money been turned
into the office of the county treasurer?
When the board quit using the property for a school it was reverted to the
Taylor estate. Later it was purchased by Mr. Smith with his own funds.
There has been no rent collected.
Was Mr. R. L. Webb, in violation of Virginia statute, given contract to
rebuild the gymnasium at Hilton, rebuild a building destroyed by fire in
Fulkerson district, as well as other building contracts?
There were no contracts. Work
was done under WPA with Mr. Webb as supervisor.
Since tuition has been abolished, you yet collect incidental fees, which
is explained as being used to pay for coal, janitors, and drayage.
But the records show that the janitors, coal, and drayage are being
paid by school warrants. What goes with this money?
Ans. The school
supplies are a separate fund. Profit in these items is used for freight,
telegrams and other incidental expenses. This is not a school fund and is
out of the jurisdiction of the board.
If you sell books and supplies each year and make a profit of 15
That question was answered in the preceding answer.
Why did you pay Ryland Craft's expenses to Richmond? Warrants 804 and 222
The expenses were not that much. Mr. Craft and Sam Carter were sent to
Richmond seeking government funds with which to pay teachers. They
obtained $11,000 as a result of the trip. The expenses were divided
between the two men.
Why do you not make financial reports on June 30 as required by section
G44J of the Virginia code showing all monies collected and disbursed?
Until the past year all reports have been filed. When Mrs. Rose went into
office as clerk she did not know until too late that such reports were to
be filed. They are to be resumed.
Why do you not publish the above report in the Gate City Herald each July,
as required by law?
This also was answered above.
Why do you not publish in the paper the day you expect to elect a division
superintendent as required by law?
We intend to next year.
Do you know that it is contrary to law to exceed any item in your budget?
You should not shift from one fund to another.
Sometimes an emergency makes this necessary. The money is replaced,