About School Boards

What is a School Board?

A school board is a body that operates the province’s publicly funded schools. The school board is governed by its publicly elected board members (trustees). Trustees can be elected to one of four different kinds of school boards: English public, English Catholic, French public and French Catholic.

A fundamental pillar of a democratic society is free education for its citizens. Ontario’s publicly funded school boards provide high standards in programming and ensure that there are supports and resources to help all students to reach those standards.

The responsibilities of school boards are set out in Ontario’s Education Act which states that every school board shall:

  • promote student achievement and well-being, a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting of all pupils, and prevention of bullying;
  • ensure effective stewardship of the board’s resources;
  • deliver effective and appropriate education programs to its pupils;
  • develop and maintain policies and organizational structures that,
    1. promote the boards goals and,
    2. encourage pupils to pursue their educational goals;
  • monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of policies developed by the board in achieving the board’s goals and the efficiency of the implementation of those policies;
  • develop a multi-year plan aimed at achieving the boards’ goals;
  • annually review the multi-year plan with the board’s Director of Education or the supervisory officer acting as the board’s Director of Education; and
  • monitor and evaluate the performance of the board’s Director of Education, or the supervisory officer acting as the board’s Director of Education, in meeting,
    1. his or her duties under this Act or any policy, guideline or regulation made under this Act, (including duties under the multi-year plan), and
    2. any other duties assigned by the board.

Beyond these broad areas of accountability, the Education Act also spells out duties for school boards that include such obligations as effective operation of schools, setting the board’s budget, implementing the Ministry’s curriculum policies, and ensuring that appropriate staff are hired as required by schools. Boards will also make determinations about such matters as pupil transportation, school libraries, continuing education, childcare facilities on school sites. More details can be found in section 170 of the Education Act. See: e-laws.gov.on.ca.

A school board is: not:

  • a parliament with party divisions. A school board is a single body made up of members, i.e., trustees. A school board should speak with one voice on the decisions it has collectively made.
  • interested only in the opinions of families with children. A school board must recognize that all of society has a stake in public education.
  • a sub-committee of the municipality. In fact, school boards govern budgets substantially greater than those of most municipalities.
  • a closed or private body. All school boards are public institutions and their meetings are open to the public.