Becoming a Trustee

School Board Trustees: Everything You Need to Know

A school board trustee is an elected member of a district school board.

What Does a School Board Trustee Do?

A school board trustee assists the school board in fulfilling its duties required by the Education Act. School board trustees focus on student achievement, student well-being, and they represent the people living in the school district.

School board trustees provide a communication channel between school boards and the concerns of the people in their community. Individuals in a region can contact their school board trustees with concerns they wish to be brought forward to the school board.

Trustees communicate the views and decisions of the board to the people they represent in their communities; they are legally bound to do so.

Trustees ensure school boards are taking into consideration student needs when making decisions and hold school boards accountable for the implementation of prior commitments. School board trustees work with the director of education meets his or her responsibilities concerning the implementation of board policies.

School Board Trustee Responsibilities

School board trustee responsibilities can be summarized as follows:

  • Establishing a vision that guarantees the strength of the public education system
  • Setting student achievement goals
  • Measuring student achievement progress
  • Ensuring equitable allocation of resources
  • Promoting accountability in school boards
  • Establishing collaborative relationships between school boards and the community
  • Increasing community involvement in public education
  • Building a respectful, professional environment in school boards.

Who does a School Board Trustee Answer To?

As elected officials, school board trustees are accountable to their electorate. They must, however, balance the duties and responsibilities given to them by the Ministry of Education with community requests.

Trustees are required to consult with students, parents, and supporters of school boards on a variety of issues with the aim of presenting the concerns of all these groups to school boards.

Each of our nine schools has a trustee representative.

By being members of district school boards, trustees are accountable to the province in regards to their conduct as well as the implementation of provincial policies and use of provincially allocated funds.

Are School Board Trustees Paid?

Yes. School board trustees are paid an honorarium every year while in office. Typical compensation ranges from $6,000 and $26,000 in Ontario.

An honorarium is not a salary but a payment offered for professional services. The compensation amount varies from one board to another. However, there are guidelines in Ontario Regulation 357/06.

The honorarium amount is composed of an annual base amount as well as other additions such as allowances for enrollment, attending meetings, transport allowances (if applicable), etc.

How do School Board Trustees work with School Councils, Parent Involvement Committees, etc.?

School councils advise school principals and school boards when appropriate. School board trustees must establish regular and consistent communication with school councils.

School board trustees who can maintain open communication with school councils in their area can fulfill their duties better. Trustees can use methods like email, newsletters, social media, websites, online journals, etc. to keep people in their community informed.

All school boards in Ontario have Parent Involvement Committees (PICs). The primary role of PICs is to encourage parents to become involved with their child's school with the aim of improving student success. PICs offer trustees advice on parent engagement. PICs also work with trustees by supporting school councils. Furthermore, PICs have a trustee representative as a member which ensures communication flows both ways.

The Education in Ontario website has an excellent overview of the responsibilities of key partners in education.

Becoming a School Board Trustee

Trustees stay in office for four years, and a trustee must remain qualified throughout his or her term to serve the full term. Trustees are responsible for ensuring they meet all the requirements stipulated in the Education Act (Section 219) before they seek office.

Visit the Ontario School Trustee website to learn about eligibility requirements and possible disqualifications for becoming a school board trustee.

Requirements for Becoming a Trustee

School board trustees don't need to meet any formal education requirements. However, they need some knowledge, skills, and experience in relevant fields to be valuable assets to school boards.

Essential requirements include:

1. Awareness and understanding of governance policies and official meeting procedures

For you to become a trustee, you need to understand governance policies, board bylaws as well as the Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct. You can familiarize yourself with all the official meeting procedures and governance policies by observing board meetings.

2. Basic understanding of the role of school board trustees

Since you are going to be legally accountable to the Ministry of Education and the public as you perform your duties, it's important to understand the legislative, legal and political parameters in which boards operate.

3. The willingness to learn

You also need to be willing to learn since there are many existing board policies and regulations you need to familiarize yourself initially to be able to discharge your duties effectively. There is always something new to learn so you must be ready and willing to spend time learning.

School Trustee Websites

Visit the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association and Ontario School Trustees to learn more.

Do you have questions?

Contact us at the Superior North Catholic District Board. We are here to help our community.

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