UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation into the functions of school boards in British Columbia Gilbert, James Philip


The significance of school districts as an object of study lies in the direct manner in which the provision of public education serves the needs of society and is, in fact, a societal undertaking. Public schooling is a major instrument for the expression of the public will in a democratic society, and the school system both models and maintains the essential attributes of that society. As a result, school districts, the basic structural unit in the organization and operation of public schools in Canada, create records which reflect the educational values and concerns of this society at the most fundamental level. Because the effective administration of education requires that records be kept, sometimes by law, it is essential to analyze the functions of school boards as a means of understanding the records they produce and their significance. The aim of this study is to identify and synthesize those facts, laws, historical developments, functions, and competencies common to the local administration of education in British Columbia with the express purpose of establishing a framework in and through which the archival control of their records may be examined. This analysis is undertaken in accordance with the archival methodology of functional analysis. The need to examine and understand the legal foundation upon which school districts and their controlling boards rests is critical because so many of their activities are largely determined by law. Accordingly, the thesis begins with an analysis of the legal framework of school district activity and shows that as political and legal entities school districts are considered to be provincial agents, albeit acting in a local capacity, with the status of quasi-municipal corporations. From this point of departure, an analysis of the relevant statute law, common law, and administrative law is then undertaken in order to determine the historical evolution of British Columbia school boards, their mandate and their functions. This examination reveals that each school board shares three primary or governing functions (legislative, judicial, and executive) and two management functions (education administration and business administration). The thesis concludes by offering an evaluation of the implications of this study for archival practice through an examination of several issues related to the archival management of school board records as well as the reasons for their permanent preservation by an archival agency.

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