Administrative History

compiled by: Una Hubbard, Archival Assistant (1992)
under the supervision of Peter Crowell, Municipal Historian & Archivist (Municipality of Argyle), with advice and editing by Mary Ledwell, Itinerant Archivist, CNSA.

Arrangement and description of this fonds was made possible through two Arrangement and Description Backlog Reduction grants from the Council of Nova Scotia Archives, and the Council of Canadian Archives.
Date: 30 July, 1992
HTML Revision: 28,April., 2001

The “Board of School Commissioners of the District of Argyle” for the administration of the schools and education system in the District of Argyle was formed sometime after the “School Act” of 1826. The Bulletin of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia: A documentary study of early education policy, Volume I, No. 1, 1937, p.37, clearly states that there were no public schools established in Argyle in 1824. School records for the District of Argyle held at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia (reference number RG 14 Vol.60) show that there were several school sections in the District of Argyle by 1834. The first minute book for the Board of School Commissioners of the District of Argyle found in this fonds begins with minutes of 21 May, 1860. The minutes suggest that this governing body did exist prior to this date, but those earlier records have not survived. The name of the “School Board” remains unchanged and continues in the minute books as the “Board of School Commissioners of the District of Argyle” until 1944 when the minutes indicate that the official title became the “Municipal School Board of the District of Argyle”.

All members of the Municipal School Board of the District of Argyle were appointed by the provincial government. (The School Board became partially elected in 1979. One third of the board members was elected, one third was appointed by the provincial government, and the remaining third was appointed by the Municipal Council of Argyle. This same formula remained until 1991 when the first fully elected School Board in the District of Argyle came into being.)

The mandate and responsibilities of all school boards in Nova Scotia were dictated by legislation adopted by the provincial government. The “Municipal School Board of the District of Argyle”, hereinafter referred to as “the Board”, handled the administration and operation of schools throughout the District of Argyle. The basic levels of administration of the school system remained the same from 1860 until the late 1950′s and early 1960′s. The Secretary of the School Board carried out the majority of the administrative functions as decided by the Board. In the case of the District of Argyle, the Municipal Clerk also served as the Secretary of the Board. It appears that the only other paid employee at the administrative level was the Inspector of Schools.

The municipality was divided into different “school sections”, each of which had a school of their own. The boundaries of these sections changed as new schools were constructed, or as school sections combined. The ratepayers in each school section elected approximately three trustees who were in charge of the basic operations of the schools. This included responsibilities such as the construction of the schools, their maintenance, and hiring teachers. They were also responsible for calculating the annual school budgets, and administering the school funds provided by the Board.

The Board received an annual school grant from the provincial government which was distributed amongst the different schools of the municipality. Since this only covered a portion of the costs, the remainder was made up through local taxation. The collection of annual school taxes from the ratepayers of the school sections, and the setting of the school tax rates based on the needs of the schools, were amongst the duties of the trustees.

With the closure of community schools and the advent of consolidation in the 1950′s and 1960′s, the function of the trustees diminished. By 1980 the trustees of the various school sections ceased to exist. Afterward, the principals of the various consolidated schools and, occasionally, specially formed school committees prepared the budgets for the consolidated schools which were submitted to the Board. Employee hiring became the responsibility of the Board and its committees. Ratepayer meetings still occurred, but organizations such as the Home & School Associations for each consolidated school tended to appropriate many of the functions which they had formerly performed.

The consolidation of schools also resulted in an increase in the number of teachers, bus drivers, and some other employees. A corresponding increase in the number of employees at the administrative level then occurred in the 1970′s. Superintendent of Schools, Curriculum Supervisor, and payroll personnel were some of the positions created by these changes.

Funding of the schools has been executed in a different manner since the years of consolidation as well. The Department of Education continues to supply a major portion of the funding in the form of annual education grants. The Municipal Council for the Municipality of Argyle also provides an annual grant to the Board. This grant comes from general tax revenues, not from a separate school tax levy as before. Community groups such as the Home & School Associations conduct fund-raising events to help support the physical operations of their various schools by purchasing equipment and assisting in other ways.

In 1982 the Municipal School Board of the District of Argyle was dissolved and was replaced by an amalgamated Clare-Argyle District School Board. The formation of a new District School Board occurred between the Municipality of Argyle and the Municipality of Clare principally because of their large Acadian populations and their shared concerns and problems in the area of French language and French language schools. The Clare-Argyle District School Board administrative office is located in Clare, while the office which handles financial matters and payroll is located in the Municipal Office for the Municipality of Argyle in Tusket, NS.