Reorganization of the Building Program
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia| Posted: 7/7/2008
By 1919, the Rosenwald building program had overwhelmed its administrators at Tuskegee, and the Rosenwald Fund undertook a review of the program's operation. Fletcher B. Dresslar of the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tennessee, offered a harsh critique of the buildings. At the same time, an audit of the Rosenwald program's financial records at Tuskegee revealed mistakes caused by lack of oversight and the crush of work pressing on a few staff members. Furthermore, some white state and county officials complained about having to participate in a program run by black administrators.
The Rosenwald Fund responded by removing the building program from Tuskegee. Samuel L. Smith, formerly Tennessee's Negro school agent, became the director of an independent Rosenwald Fund Southern Office in Nashville in 1920. Now the goal was to construct model rural schools. The Fund required that schools it aided meet specific minimum standards for the site size and length of school term, and have new blackboards and desks for each classroom, as well as two sanitary privies. School grants were based on the number of teachers employed, ranging from $500 for a one-teacher building to a maximum $2,100 for a school for ten or more teachers. The Fund also offered grants of $200 per classroom for additions to existing Rosenwald schools from 1921 to 1931.
African Americans had to contribute cash and in-kind donations of material labor to match the Rosenwald grant. Although the Rosenwald Fund emphasized that its schools received additional contributions from "white friends," overall the personal contributions by white southerners constituted the smallest category of support for Rosenwald schools. By far the largest source of funding was tax funds. The county school board had to provide public support, take ownership of the new school property, and commit to maintaining it as part of the public school system. In the prime years of the school building program from 1920 to 1928, between four and five hundred schools were built annually, with the fund's aid totaling from $356,000 to $414,000 each year. Next »