Gravenall was replaced by Rev Charles Zercho – an Anglican minister and headmaster at the small south-east Melbourne school of Berwick Grammar.
A strong, athletic man, Zercho was an ‘idealist’ who believed in discipline, correction and punishment. But it seems, like Gravenall, he was less than diligent in financial management. There were difficulties paying staff and unpaid bills within the Box Hill community.
With enrolment numbers hovering around 50 during Zercho’s four-year stewardship, a group of concerned parents and citizens began meeting in 1924 with concerns about the management of the school. They proposed a motion to change the school from the status of private to public and, although the minutes of the meetings were either not recorded or lost, Zercho is reported to have willingly agreed.
At Speech Night in 1925, the chairman of the group – a member of state parliament and an able, popular fighter of local causes – explained that the status of the school had now changed all profits would be directly channelled to the school’s development.
Effectively, Zercho relinquished financial control of the school to a group of parents and friends who formed a council who bought the property, guaranteed the school’s debts and ensured that control was no longer solely in the hands of the headmaster.
Although much of what happened in 1925 is shrouded, it seems that during Zercho’s stewardship enrolments fell, debts grew, and there was ongoing disagreement between him and those who wanted to rescue the school’s financial integrity and respectability.
Zercho resigned during the year and a fire at the school destroyed all the records dating back to 1890.
At the end of 1923, Zercho – along with all the staff and many of the students – left the school. He resumed his career as an Anglican minister with parishes in Healesville and Glen Iris.