The first meeting of the newly elected School Board in Blantyre took place on the evening of Tuesday 19th March 1900 following the result the previous week of the triennial election.
The first task at hand was to appoint a chairperson. Mr Neil Douglas was quick to nominate Dr. William Grant, who had been chairperson for the previous 3 years, adding that Dr Grant had previously conducted business in a courteous and efficient manner and had already won the esteem of all his colleagues.
Dr Grant had taken a deep interest in the educational matters of the Parish and had a firm grasp of the Education Act. Mr Menzies seconded the motion, as did Mr. Turnbull and to applause declared that Dr Grant was once again elected.
Dr. Grant spoke accepting the position and thanking everybody. He hoped the board would not see eye to eye on all matters and favoured an opposition to ensure healthy rivalry. He welcomed the new members.
He mentioned that the first tasks were to be the proposed office accommodation at the proposed new Parish Chambers and to turn attention to the furnishings and appointment of teachers for the new Primary School at Auchinraith. Both important matters. He asked all members to work hard and to make the schools as efficient as possible, which received applause.
Before the meeting closed, is was agreed that they should meet on the second Tuesday of the month but at 5 o’clock rather than 6pm. An overdraft was arranged in the School Board Bank account of £1,500 if needed.
Mr Turbitt, previously the janitor at Newton School, had entered duties as janitor at Low Blantyre School. Mrs Thomson, wife of the late janitor in Low Blantyre School, was appointed cleaner of High Blantyre School , taking over from Mr. Keith who wished to give up his role as cleaner. Mrs Thomson was appointed and was given a salary of 18s per week. (not even a shilling a day). The Master of Works gave a progress report on the building of the new Auchinraith School, and it was acknowledged that whilst some aspects of the school were slow in progressing, others had advanced well. £650 had been received from the Parish Council, being the final instalment of school grant and rates for the current year.
He mentioned also that recognition should at once be made of many unusual alterations to the Education Act of 1872, which in 1900 were to herald in a new era of education. The most important new change was to ensure that children were given a full entitlement to education by passing the Act’s new rule that every child MUST stay on in school until the age of 14, signifying an end to employment exploitation of minors. However, special license could be made to the school board for children 12 years and over.
To be continued in part 2
From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2016