Readin’ and writin’ and ‘rithmetic

Beginning School Districts in the County of Vulcan

When early homesteaders began arriving in the area, they found that often there was not a school for their children. Families who wanted a school would gather to form a committee. There had to be at least three taxpayers. They would petition the Ministry of Education, asking for the formation of a school district. Before Alberta became a province in 1905, the request went to Regina. After, the requests went to Edmonton. School districts were four miles square, or five at the most, so the children could walk or ride to school. After 1905, there had to be at least 8 children of school age in the proposed district. (This requirement was sometimes relaxed.) At some schools, a younger child started school early, so there would be enough children to have a school.

The Minister of Education would send out forms and a meeting of the ratepayers had to be called, so that a vote could be taken. If the vote was in favor of establishing the school district, the forms were sent in. The Minister announced the formation by having the official notification printed in the Alberta Gazette newspaper. The districts were numbered as they were formed, so the smaller the school district’s number, the earlier the school.

A local three-member board would be formed, usually a chairman, a secretary and a treasurer. Sometimes one of the board was a secretary-treasurer. This board was responsible for submitting several possible names. The final choice was made by the Ministry of Education. A lot can be learned about the school by the name that it carried. The exact school site was also chosen by the board. A central location was preferred, so that no child would be more than three miles from their school.

The Ministry provided blueprints for four basic plans for the early schools. If the school district needed to borrow money, they had to receive permission from the Ministry to do so.

The earliest school district formed in this area was Sharon School District No. 1065, located southwest of the present day Brant. It was established on July 27, 1904. The last school district was Pasture Land School District No. 5019, southeast of Milo. It was formed on July 1,1953 for taxation purposes. (There was never a school built in this district.) Bow Valley School District No. 1409, southwest of Champion, was the last district established by the North West Territories, before the area became the province of Alberta.

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