No. 122

A.D. 1869

Amended by No. 132.

An Ordinance to establish Public Schools throughout the Colony of British Columbia.

[13th March, 1869.]

Preamble.WHEREAS it is necessary to establish an uniform system of Public Education throughout the Colony:

Be it enacted by the Governor of British Columbia, with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council thereof, as follows:-

Common School Act 1865, repealed. 1. "The Common School Act, 1865," of the former Colony of Vancouver Island, is hereby repealed.
Power to Governor in Council to create School Disctricts, apportion School grant, and make Rules for the Management of Schools.

A.D. 1869

2. It shall be lawful for the Governor in Council from time to time,-
  1. To describe School Districts, to define the boundaries thereof, and from time to time repeal, alter, or amend the same;
  2. To hear and determine all applications for grants of public money for the assistance of Common Schools, and to apportion, as may be deemed most useful, the sum or sums of money granted by the Legislature for that purpose; provided, always, that the assistance granted to any School Teacher shall not exceed five hundred dollars per annum:
  3. To appoint Teachers to Common Schools, and upon good cause shewn, to remove the same, or appoint others in their stead:
  4. To provide for the examination of Common School Teachers, as well as regards efficiency as character:
  5. To provide that the text books used in Common Schools be of a proper and non-sectarian character:
  6. To provide for the visitation and inspection of Common Schools when deemed necessary, and for hearing and determining all complaints relating to the management, arrangement, and maintenance of Common Schools, and for the public grants made under this Ordinance being properly applied; provided, always, that the expenses of any such visitation and inspection shall not be borne by the School funds;
  7. To make Regulations for due Returns being made of the Receipts and Expenditures of Common Schools, and generally for all such information as may be deemed necessary:
  8. To take charge of all Lands and Buildings set apart for general School purposes, and applicable therefor, however acquired, whether by original reservation by the Government or otherwise, and administer the same for the purposes of this Ordinance:
  9. To make Rules and Regulations for the management and government of Common Schools:
  10. To provide for the establishment and election of Local Boards, as hereinafter provided.
Petitions from residents required. 3. No School District shall be created unless the following conditions are complied with, namely:-
  1. A petition shall be addressed to the Governor, signed by at least two-thirds of the resident householders of the District, praying to have the same converted into a School District:
  2. The said petition shall set forth the number of children between the ages of 5 and 18 years who will be able to attend the proposed School; and also the number of children below the age of 5 years; and also the number and names of the residents in the District above the age of 21 years, and the amount to be contributed by them towards the support of a School Teacher and School-house.
Power to dispense with petition, &c. 4. Provided, always, that the Governor in Council shall not require any such petition from any present School District, and shall have power, if he think fit, to refuse to create any School District where the number of children likely to attend School does not exceed twelve in number, or where the amount likely to be collected shall not exceed three hundred dollars per annum for the School Teacher; but provided, further, that nothing in this section shall prevent the Governor in Council granting assistance to Districts not containing inhabitants enough to warrant their being converted into School Districts, in accordance with this Ordinance.

Election of Local Boards. 5. Upon the receipt of such petition as aforesaid, from any District, the Governor in Council may order the election of a Local Board therein, to consist of not less than three persons, who shall be elected annually, during the first week in October in each year, at a Public Meeting (of which seven days' notice shall be given by the Chairman of the then existing Board) of the residents of the District; provided, however, that the first election under this Ordinance may take place at any time appointed by the Governor; and provided, further, that the Municipal Council of the City of Victoria, and of the City of New Westminster, and the Council of any Municipality hereafter created, shall be and are hereby constituted the Local Board for the City of Victoria, and of New Westminster, and of any Town created as aforesaid, respectively, or any extension of their limits for the purpose of this Ordinance, and shall have and may exercise all the powers vested in Local Boards by this Ordinance, without any special election or special meetings for the purposes of this Ordinance.

Duties of Local Boards. 6. It shall be the duty of the Local Board:-
  1. To appoint one of themselves, or some other person to be Secretary and Treasurer, for the correct recording of all proceedings, and the safe keeping of all papers and moneys:
  2. To have the safe custody of all School property within the District:
  3. To do whatever they may judge expedient with regard to the maintenance, repair, and furnishing of School premises, and to have the general management of Schools, subject to the Rules and Regulations of the Governor in Council:
  4. To call a Special Meeting (of which a member of the Local Board shall be Chairman) of the [freeholders and resident householders} of the District, as early as may be in each year, (and of which Meeting seven days' notice shall be given in as public manner as possible), to determine whether to apply for a grant in aid of Educational purposes as hereinafter provided, and to decide in what manner the balance (if any) of moneys required for the purpose aforesaid, and for which the said grants may not prove sufficient for the current year shall be raised, whether by voluntary subscription, tuition fees, or general rate as hereinafter mentioned, and to fix the amount of such tuition fee; provided, always, that such tuition fee shall not exceed two dollars per month for each Scholar:
  5. In their discretion, to exempt from the payment of tuition fees, wholly or in part, any indigent person:
  6. To demand, receive, and account for all moneys to be collected by rate bill from the parents, or by subscription, or otherwise, from the inhabitants of the District, and to use all lawful ways and means for the collection thereof; and to pay to the School Teacher the sum guaranteed to him by the Local Board:
  7. To permit all residents in the School Districts, between the ages of five and eighteen years, to attend the School, so long as they conduct themselves in conformity with the Rules of such School, and the fees or rates (if any) required to be paid on their behalf are fully discharged:
  8. To transmit, before the 31st December in each year, a Report of the condition of the Schools within the District, together with a statement of all receipts and expenditure for School purposes, to the Governor in Council:
  9. To make application to the Governor in Council for a grant of the public money, if required, to aid the establishment or maintenance of a Common School, stating in such application the number of children between the ages of five and eighteen years resident in the District; the number of pupils likely to attend School, and how many thereof will be able to pay School Fees if required; the mode or manner adopted for the support of the School and School Teacher; the amount likely to be collected; the guarantees for its collection; the amount to be paid to the School Teacher; the sum reserved for furnishing and keeping in order and repair the School premises; and generally all such information as may be required by the Governor in Council:
  10. To demand, receive, and account for all moneys collected or payable under any By-Law as aforesaid from the residents of the District, or received from the parents or guardians of children.
Power to Local Board to levy a tax 7. If, at the before mentioned Annual Meeting of the [freeholders and residential householders] it shall be determined by a vote of two-thirds of the number present to levy a tax in lieu of charging tuition fees, the Local Board shall have power, and the same is hereby granted, to pass a By-Law for levying and collecting a tax not exceeding two dollars per head per annum upon all resident householders and male residents above the age of twenty years, in the District.

Power to enforce payment of tax. 8. Every By-Law, when approved of by the Governor, shall have the force of Law, and any person liable to pay any tax made payable thereunder, and refusing to pay the same within seven days after the same shall have become due, may be summoned, at the instance of the Local Board, to appear before the nearest Justice of the Peace, who shall have power to act summarily in the matter, and adjudge the amount of the said tax, and such costs (to be levied, if necessary, by distress of goods and chattels of the person refusing to pay) as he may think reasonable.

Repeal or amendment of By-Law. 9. Every such By-Law shall be in force until repealed or amended by succeeding Local Board, but no such amended By-Law or repeal thereof shall take effect until approved of by the Governor.

Power to refer By-Law to residents of District. 10. The Governor shall have power, before assenting or refusing to assent to any By-Law, to refer, if he think fit, the same to the residents of the District for their approval or the contrary, and to order their votes to be taken in that behalf.

Disposal of Common School grant. 11. Upon the receipt of a proper application from the Local Board of any School District, or from the inhabitants of any District, the Governor in Council may, after having taken into consideration such application, appropriate out of the Public School Fund a sum not in any case to exceed five hundred dollars per annum, for the purpose of assisting the payment of a Salary to a School Teacher, and also, if necessary, a further sum to aid in defraying the expense of erecting a School-house or of renting a building or room suitable for the purpose of a Common School, and to order the payment of such sum at such times and in such manner as may be deemed advisable or necessary; provided, always, that such grants shall not be made until the Local Board shall have given satisfactory evidence that the portion promised by the Local Board for payment of a School Teacher, the erection of Buildings, and furnishing and maintenance of the School has been collected and paid, or reasonably secured.

Clergy may visit.12. It shall be lawful for every Clergyman and Minister of any denomination, at such times, before and after the regular school hours, as shall be approved by the Governor in Council, to visit the Public School of the District in which such Clergyman or Minister is resident or officiates, and impart such religious instruction as he may think proper to the children of his denomination.

Short Title.13. This Ordinance may be cited for all purposes as "The Common School Ordinance, 1869."