York Town Square

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How one York County school district emerged from 1950s merger

Phyllis Chisler’s rendition of Hametown School serves as the focal point of the cover of Joseph D. Boose’s book on the one-room school. The painting was entered in the York County Painter’s contest of York County one room schools in 1963. Background posts: The Outhouse Rules – York County, circa 1935 and Northeastern York County’s Paddletown: Children paddled back and forth to visit grandma and One-room school reunions preserve educational culture of thousands of York countians.

Gov. Rendell has called for the state’s 500 districts to implode into 100.
This is not the first time a call for school consolidation has gone out.
In post-World War II York County, 32 districts merged into 15, according to the booklet “York County: An Overview.”
What actually happened in the 1950s when all this consolidation took place?

Joe Boose is interested in a Hametown one-room school in Shrewsbury Township.
He wrote a publication about the school, “Hametown School, History in Review” in which he covered every nook and cranny of the the old building – which stands today – and its past.
He also gives an interesting glimpses about how consolidation affected a one-room school, one of approximately 300 such structures scattered around York County.
Here’s an edited excerpt from Boose’s work about consolidation that includes information about construction of Susquehannock High School, named after the American Indians who occupied York County:

… Shrewsbury Township, Codorus Township, Shrewsbury Borough, Glen Rock Borough, and New Freedom Borough consolidated their school system into the Southern York County School System. Construction started on a new school system, building four new Elementary Schools around the district and a central High School for the entire District. The new elementary schools would be in Shrewsbury, New Freedom, Glen Rock, and Glenville.
The elementary schools would house students from 1st grade through the 6th grade, while the high school would be for 7th through 12th grade. The high school would be known as Susquehannock High School and would be a combination of 3 smaller high schools, one in Glen Rock, New Freedom, and Codorus Township. The high school received the name of Susquehannock through a contest. By the end of the school year of 1951, the schools were nearly complete and the consolidation took place. The remaining one-room schools were closed. Hametown was in the last batch of schools to be closed.
During the school year 1950-51, the teachers (Claude Swartzbaugh was the last teacher at Hametown before consolidation) knew this was the last year for the one-room schools. It was during this time that preparations for a move from the school were being made. Everything must be packed up.
With the beginning of school in the fall of 1951, Susquehannock High School was nearly complete but not enough for all grades. So some of the high school grades were to use some of the close-by, one-room schools. Hametown was not one of these. The school district sold the school and property to Edna Bollinger on December 20, 1951. And so ends the history of the one-room schoolhouse in Hametown; the rest of the story is residential.

Edited, updated: 5/10/10