The rural school houseThe rural schoolhouse was, at one time, a part of the community, woven into people's lives as few schools are today. Early residents wanted education for their children and the erection of the school was a significant event.
The government had rules to follow if any region wished to have a school. Residents of the proposed school district must meet, and appoint a committee of at least three taxpayers to serve as school trustees. This board of trustees had to apply to the government for permission to designate the area as a school district. The district could only be four or five miles square and must correspond with adjoining districts. The proposed site of the school was to be central so that it would be easy for children to get there as there was no transportation other than horse, or horse and buggy. A minimum of eight students were required who were between the ages of five and eighteen. There had to be at least four residents of the district who would be liable for the assessment of taxes for school purposes.
In the early days the board was in charge of the acquisition of the property, and the building and maintenance of the school. The school was usually one room, about 22' x 30' in area. The community had to raise their own money for the operation of the school through taxes levied on the rate- payers and through fund-raising events. Through meetings and social gatherings held there, it soon became the community centre of the district. Box socials, church on Sunday, school board meetings, Christmas concerts, political meetings and dances were held at the school.
The teachers were hired and paid by the local board. They were not provided accommodation but had to find room and board at one of the homes in the district. They quite often had no means of transportation so would look for a place as close to the school as possible. Some teachers agreed to sweep out the school, but in most schools, trustees hired a neighbour or an older student to act as janitor and make sure that coal for the stove and water for drinking, were brought in daily and to see to the fire every morning. In districts, teacherages were built beside the school, so a teacher might have a place of her own.
The story of the rural schoolhouse is one of initiative, determination, disappointment and courage. Yet it is a story encompassing a period of only 75 years. Small rural schools came into being at the beginning of the 20th century, grew steadily with each new wave of immigration, flourished in the thirties and early forties, and started to decline after World War II, and now, have disappeared almost entirely.
Names and Numbers of School Districtsby Betty Robinson
The provincial ordinance relating to the formation of public school districts left the responsibility of naming each district to the local residents. Today knowing how a school district got its name gives a bit of local history to present residents of the area.
The Department of Education assigned numbers to the school districts. The first school district formed was number one, number two the next and so on. This did not however, apply to Alberta.
When the Territorial Council set up schools in what is now Saskatchewan and Alberta, they began with Moose Jaw S.D. No. 1 and numbered the districts as they were formed. When the two provinces were formed Alberta continued on from the last school enumerated which was Bow Valley S. D. 1409. The next one in the new province in 1905 was 1410. Saskatchewan went back to No. 1 for its school districts and renumbered many of them.
Some Alberta school districts had been formed before the 1905 formation of the separate provinces, hence White School District No. 678.
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