In 1936, as the Great Depression was starting to wind down, the Public Works Administration (PWA) was still very active. Probably one of the biggest things constructed in the Gallatin area with the use of PWA grants was a new high school building located adjacent to the then present high school building west of the town square.
The proposed $60,000 building included the high school and the auditorium. Due to necessary cost cuts, a final bid of a little over $57,000 was accepted. A bond of $33,000 had been passed by taxpayers to pay their part. There had been six bidders for the job.
Even after necessary cuts had been made to offset the cost of the building, their wasn’t any money for equipment, lockers, and one room had to be left unfinished, along with other less expensive cuts such as substituting pine woodwork instead of oak. The new auditorium was to seat a thousand people. The estimated time for construction was 250 days. Workers for the job were to come from the employment office.
The location for building close to the present building was due to economical reasons (i.e. both the new and the old buildings could be served by the same heating plants). The main concern and motive for the new construction was overcrowded classrooms due to the arrival of students from the rural schools. There were 460 students, with 280 of these being high school students enrolled for the 1936-37 school year. Thirty of the students did not have desks, and there was no room for them if they were secured.
More than 45 classes were made available to high school students, with eight instructors. There were eight instructors for the junior high and grades combined making a total of 16 instructors in addition to the Wilberforce teacher.
The per pupil cost for non-resident students in high school was $70 per year with $50 of this fee paid by the state. The rural school district was responsible for the remaining $20 for each student attending the school from it’s district. The tuition cost for grade pupils was $33 per term.
The Gallatin Democrat: “Gallatin to Get New School Building” & “Too Many Students in Gallatin School” September 10, 1936.
— researched and presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO (2003)