Bellevue, Kentucky became a common school district in 1871 when a special school committee was formed from the board of trustees of the city. Miss Eva Harpold taught the first school, located on Lafayette Street, which had an average attendance of 46.9 for the school year 1871-1872.
The board of trustees levied a special tax, an issued bonds for the construction of a new four room brick building on Lafayette and Center Streets, which action was approved by the State Legislature April 23, 1873.
The office of Superintendent was established, September 1874, and J. S. Hart was appointed the first Superintendent at a salary of $60.00 per month. The school enrollment increased from sixty-seven to 1871 to nine hundred and fifteen in 1900. The salary of Superintendent was raised to $150.00 per month in 1900, the teacher's salary was increased from $30.00 to a maximum of $65.00.
In 1882, a four room addition was made to the Center Street School and, by an act approved by the Legislature, March 19, 1889, a new six room brick building was erected on Poplar Street and Van Voast Avenue, with a bond issue of $10,000.00.
By 1885 the elementary school was graded into eight classes with a complete course of study. A high school department was inaugurated with a course of study providing for four years of secondary work. A board of examiners was established March 4, 1885, with power to certify teachers to be employed in the Bellevue Public Schools.
At the turn of the century the Bellevue public schools operated in two buildings, one on Lafayette and Center Streets, and on on Poplar Street and Van Voast Avenue. In 1901 a frame building was purchased on Eden Avenue. A new building was erected on Center Street and Washington Avenue in 1905-1907, after which the Eden Avenue School was sold. The average daily attendance, 834 in 1900, gradually dropped to 713 in 1925. An explanation is found in the fact that parochial schools of Bellevue began to assume greater importance in the educational program of Bellevue, Kentucky, during the period from 1900 to 1925.
Sacred Heart Parish opened the first parochial school in Bellevue in January, 1875, on Division Street, with fifty pupils. A two-story frame building was erected on the site, opening September 6, 1897. The present nine-room brick building on Taylor and Division is fully equipped, was built at a total cost of $41,986.01,and was dedicated in June of 1915. Enrollment in June, 1941 was 375.
St. Anthony Parish was organized in 1888 from Sacred Heart by the non-German speakers of the parish. The new church was erected in 1893, and elementary classes were begun in the church building, and other buildings around the church, until 1830, when the present St. Anthony school was erected at a cost around $150,000.00. T. Anthony enrollment for 1940-41 was 250.
The curriculum of the elementary schools did not increase in scope other than under the influence of a music supervisor and a physical education supervisor who were hired in 1915. The narrow high school curriculum simply became a broadened college preparatory program, still classical in nature.
The present high school building on Bellevue was erected in 1930 at a cost of $108,000. In 1936, a $30,000 addition was made to the high school building. The Center Street and Washington Avenue school was completely renovated in 1936, thus providing housing facilities for consolidating the Poplar Street School with the Center Street School. A cafeteria was installed in the elementary building at Center Street and Washington Avenue in 1940 at a cost of $3,643.07. A stadium project was launched in 1936 and completed in 1940 at a cost of $107,710.83, of which $42,089.61 were received through Works Progress Administration grants.
The elementary population decreased in 591 in 1925, to 445 in 1941; however the high school population, over the same period, increased from 163 to 309. Thus the total enrollment of 754, was unchanged.
The high school curriculum is no longer the strictly classical course of study, but also provides for the training of pupils who expect to earn a living without college training. Physical education, music, and industrial arts have come to be recognized as regular parts of the curriculum and are coordinated in the elementary and secondary grades.
Teacher certification is controlled by the State Department of Education, necessitating a bachelor's degree for a provisional certificate and a graduate degree for a standard or life certificate. Compensation in the Bellevue Public Schools ranges from $1,000 to $2,250 per year for classroom teachers, depending upon professional training, experience, and amount of service rendered to the system. Per pupil cost has increased from $39.41 per pupil enrolled in 1920 to $114.21 per pupil enrolled in 1940.
The Bellevue Public Schools in 1941 employed thirty-seven classroom teachers, two supervisors, two principals, and a superintendent.
The above are the end of chapter summaries from an unpublished University of Cincinnati master's thesis History of the Public Schools of Bellevue, Kentucky by James Robert Tully, 1942.