Timeline of public schools in Mont Vernon

1804 - Amherst had two grammar schools, one in the center of town and one in the “northwest parish,” which is now Mont Vernon. After Mont Vernon separated in 1804, we divide into five districts: North, West, South, East and Center, an arrangement that lasts for more than a century. Except for the Center School, they are one-room schools with one teacher handling first through sixth grades. Center School sometimes had two teachers and at some periods taught through the eighth grade. Beginning in 1871 and running off and on for decades, the town paid tuition for some town pupils, sometimes as many as two dozen, to attend private schools in what is now the McCollom Building. In most years older students attend high schools in a number of adjoining towns, usually Milford and Amherst but sometimes as far away as Manchester, on a tuition basis.

1878 - The state begins to impose standards on public education. In 1878, state law require that some money be spent transporting pupils who lived more than a mile and a half from a schoolhouse. In 1883, districts were required to buy textbooks. In 1919, the Legislature established the first state aid for poor school districts and expanded the year to the current length.

1901-1906 - The private Stearns School closes and what is now the McCollom Building operated as a public high school for Mont Vernon, but attendance never tops 20 and it eventually reverts to a private school.

1919 – Mont Vernon School District joins a new state-mandated administrative unit, Supervisory Union No. 40 with Amherst, Brookline and Milford. In 1933, Hollis joins. This organization lasts for 45 years.

1922 – The number of pupils has been falling for decades along with the town population, often falling below 30, which empties the outlying district schools. This brings the long debate about whether to consolidate elementary schools came to a head and by 1922, the Center School is the only elementary school in town. A handful of students also attend the Johnson Corner school in Lyndeborough during most of the decade. Most of the district schools have since burned or been torn down; only the South School building still exists, as a private home on Old Milford Road.

1947 - The Center School is closed, sold and moved to Pinkham Avenue after the McCollom Institute trustees allow that empty building to be used for an elementary school. The school has two ground-floor classrooms – one for grades 1-3, one for grades 4-6 – and a gym upstairs. A third classroom is built in 1955. The upstairs is turned into classrooms in 1961.

1964 – After the old Supervisory Union system is disbanded by the state, Mont Vernon and Amherst join Milford AREA school district, which lasts for more than 35 years.

1970 - The Village School is built on Harwood Road with four rooms. Grades 4-6 move there while grades 1-3 stay in the McCollom building for 20 more years. The Village School has been enlarged three times since then.

1988 - Amherst splits from Milford school district. After a heated debate, Mont Vernon joins them in the new Souhegan Cooperative School District. Students go to Amherst Middle School for the first time in 1991; Souhegan High School opens in 1992.

1990 - All elementary classes move to the Village School on Harwood Road. No classes are held in the McCollom Building for the first time in .

2000 - Mont Vernon adds public kindergarten. The private cooperative kindergarten, which had operated in the basement of the Congregational Church for decades, closes.

2000’s – School population is town grows to more than 250 but begins to decline by 2010, falling by one-third by 2018. Number of pupils at Amherst Middle and Souhegan High also decline, leading to questions about the future arrangement of the town’s education.

Compiled 2017 by Dave Brooks