Trustees of School Section Number 7 in the District of Yarmouth (Chegoggin, N.S.)

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Trustees of School Section Number 7 in the District of Yarmouth (Chegoggin, N.S.)

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        For most Nova Scotians, particularly those residing in rural areas such as Chegoggin, Yarmouth County, 1864 marked a turning point in the provision of accessible public education. In that year, the provincial government introduced a new Education Act, which, with amendments passed in 1865 and 1866, established Nova Scotia's "free" school system, so-called because, under this new system, public schools no longer charged tuition or attendance fees to students, but instead were supported by compulsory local assessment (taxation) and provincial government grants. Pursuant to the Education Act, the jurisdictions of Nova Scotia's Boards of School Commissioners were clarified and confirmed. These jurisdictions, identified as "school districts", were based, in most cases, on county boundaries, although some larger and more populous counties contained more than one school district. The school districts were, in turn, divided into school sections, with each section being responsible for establishing and maintaining a school, the operation of which was to be overseen by a board of trustees. The board of trustees, then, was the smallest unit of school administration, below district boards of school commissioners and the provincial government's Council of Public Instruction and Superintendent of Education. Trustees were elected for three year terms at annual meetings of a school section's ratepayers and were responsible for holding all school property, employing and maintaining teachers, making regular visits to the school, looking after school facilities and equipment, summoning regular meetings of the ratepayers of the school section, filing returns with the divisional inspector, making arrangements for the conveyance of pupils, and, in later years, enforcing the Public Health Act in schools. Provincial legislation allowing for local boards of school trustees and the support of local schools through assessment had actually been in place for decades previous to 1864, but because the laws had been permissive and not compulsory, their application had been erratic, and in much of Nova Scotia, particularly in rural areas, public schools were either inadequate or non-existent. As a consequence, earlier efforts to identify units of local school administration had been fairly unsuccessful, and great efforts were expended during the mid-1860s in drawing the boundaries of school sections to ensure that the entire province was effectively covered. Not all sections complied immediately with new legislation, however. In Chegoggin, it appears that no serious efforts to erect a school were undertaken until 1869, when some local residents met and decided that their community needed a school house. A notice was circulated within the community soliciting donations. Not enough money was raised, however, so the group voted to assess the section for the amount required to build a school (which was what the Education Act required, in any case). Money began to be raised as some residents payed the tax and the group began to purchase building supplies. In 1881 the school was still under construction. Pursuant to the Education Act, the Chegoggin school section's board of trustees operated as a body corporate under the title "Trustees of School Section Number 7 in the District of Yarmouth". It should be noted that the Chegoggin School Section was later re-numbered 36 (the school section set off to encompass the newly incorporated town of Yarmouth in 1890 was eventually designated as section number 7). During the first decade of the twentieth century, however, this section was dissolved and replaced by two new sections, designated as North and South Chegoggin, sections numbers 12 and 10 respectively.


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