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Scott County Historical Society

Scott County, Virginia


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The Kingsport Times
Kingsport Tennessee February 24, 1929



Veteran Educator Has Been Superintendent in Scott County For 47 Years


GATE CITY, March 11W. D. Smith, superintendent of public instruction in Scott county during the past 47 years, yesterday was unanimously reelected to that post in a meeting of the Scott county school board in joint session with the teachers institute. The meeting was held in the Shoemaker high school auditorium.  

 Smith was placed in nomination by K. L. Webb, who characterized him as a man who could have risen high in politics in Virginia, but who preferred nearly a half century of service to public instruction in Scott county.  

Webb traced the evolution of educational standards in the county from 1880 and the one room log schools valued then at about $1,000, to the present day school property valued at over $500,000.  

Charles P. Quillin, who seconded Smith's nomination, said his friend had grown gray headed through the years as he continued to serve Scott county and gave a helping hand to struggling students who are now nationally known.

     Quillin mentioned a few examples of men and women from Scott County who have their present reputation and position largely to their early training in the county's schools. He also paid tribute to Smith for his unstinting aid in helping deserving students.

     At the time of his appointment in 1886, Smith was the youngest of 117 superintendents in that year.  He is now the only survivor of that group

and is the oldest superintendent in the state in point of service.

Prank T. West, of Louisa, and  E. G. Glass, of Lynchburg, were the last two from the group of 117 who died in recent years as incumbents.

     Quick to sense the drift of conditions, Smith began a policy of retrenchment three years ago during which time he has been able to reduce the school budget $37,000 annually.

     During the same period of time the per student cost in Scott county has been the lowest in the state.

     Examples of nearby comparisons given by seconding speaker showed that records revealed Scott county spent $12 per student, Lee county $18, Wise county $27, Russell county $24.  The same records show Lee county has 600 less students than Scott, but employs 37 more instructors, while Washington county has 700 more students employs 87 more teachers.

A further example of school economy in Scott county was that 48 counties in Virginia have less school population than Scott yet this county is financed on a far lower cost.

     In years past Smith has been prominent in political circles serving for four years as chairman of the Democratic organization in the Ninth district of Virginia and for a like period as chairman of the Democratic party in Scott county.

     Educational posts he has held include membership on the William and Mary college board of visitors, member of the board of trustees of Radford State Teachers college, and a trustee of the old Shoemaker college.

     Observers declared at the close of the meeting here that the events of the day constituted one of the most unusual tributes of respect ever shown to a living man in Scott county.  

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