Become a Trustee

Can anyone be a School Board Trustee?

A person is qualified to be elected as a school board trustee if the person is qualified to vote in a school board election and is a resident of the school board district. When filing a nomination a candidate must meet all of the following requirements:

  • a resident within the jurisdiction of the board;
  • a supporter* of the board;
  • a Canadian citizen;
  • at least 18 years old;
  • Roman Catholic (if running for a separate school board);
  • not legally prohibited from voting; and
  • not disqualified by any legislation from holding school board office.

(*"Supporter" refers to the individual’s support for one of the four publicly funded school systems. A list of supporters for each system is kept by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation.)

Note: A candidate, if nominated, must remain qualified throughout the election and, if elected, throughout the term of office. The term of office is 4 years. School board candidates should confirm that they have the qualifications described in section 219 of the Education Act. It is the responsibility of the candidate to determine whether he or she is qualified to be elected to and hold office.

A candidate for school board office cannot be a clerk, deputy clerk, treasurer or deputy treasurer of a municipality within the jurisdiction of a board.

The following persons are disqualified from being elected to school board office:

  • any person not eligible to vote in the municipality;
  • an employee of any school board unless he or she
    1. takes an unpaid leave of absence before being nominated, and
    2. resigns, if elected to the office; (See additional note below*)
  • a judge of any court;
  • a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, a Senator or a member of the House of Commons; or
  • an inmate of a penal or correctional institution under sentence of imprisonment.

*Note: An employee of a school board who wishes to run for office on any school board must take an unpaid leave of absence prior to being nominated. If elected, the employee must resign. A person may not be employed by one school board and hold office on a different school board. A clerk, treasurer, deputy clerk, deputy treasurer of a municipality wishing to run for office on a school board must also take unpaid leave prior to being nominated and resign if elected. An employer is required to grant a leave of absence.

Experience and Knowledge that would be good to have

Trustee candidates do not need to have a background in education. However, the following skills and experience would be assets for potential trustee candidates.

Basic understanding of official meeting procedures and governance policies

Candidates should review a copy of their board’s bylaws, governance policies and Code of Ethics or Conduct. They could also observe board meetings to get an understanding of the process.

Basic understanding of a Trustee’s role as a member of a Board

Under the Education Act trustee power lies solely in membership on the corporate school board. The corporate board of trustees is legally accountable to the public and to the Minister of Education for the collective decisions of the board and for the delivery and quality of educational services. This means that once the Board of Trustees has voted, it is a trustee’s responsibility to act in a manner that promotes and upholds the board’s decision and to communicate the board’s decision back to the constituency.

Some awareness of the legal, political and legislative parameters in which school boards operate

School board operations are often highly prescribed by legislation or regulation or other forms of provincially driven policy. Candidates need to be aware of this fact, especially when making campaign promises.

Willingness to learn

A newly-elected school trustee has a fairly steep learning curve, and must be willing to spend time becoming familiar with existing board policies and relevant legislation.

Acceptance to serve on a school board assumes an awareness of the legislated expectations and responsibilities conferred through legislation, provincial policy, contractual agreements or any other mechanism. Trustees must act within these parameters, and be aware of the consequences of decisions that don’t respect these commitments. Anyone considering candidacy for school board membership should carefully consider these accountability relationships and responsibilities when making the important decisions to serve, or continuing to serve, on a district school board.

I want to run for School Board Trustee. What do I have to do?

Key Dates — 2014
Nomination and Campaign Period Begins January 2, 2014
Nomination Day (last Day To Be Nominated) September 12, 2014
Final Day For Withdrawal Of Candidacy September 12, 2014
Voting Day October 27, 2014
School Board Term Begins December 1, 2014
Campaign Period Ends December 31, 2014
Financial Filing Deadline March 27, 2015
School Board Terms Ends November 30, 2018

Detailed information can be found in the 2014 Candidates’ Guide for Ontario Municipal and School Board Elections at: http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=10336.