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School's out
The Role of the Trustee

I am often asked for more details about our role - how many hours a week I work - the variety of the work we do - and how much we are paid.

A Trustee's work hours aren't 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. While some of our meetings occur during the day, many of our meetings take place in the evening. A typical Board meeting starts with Private Session at 6 p.m., moves into Public Session at 7 p.m. and ends after 10 p.m. Committee of the Whole meetings start at 6 p.m. and usually end after 9 p.m. We have public meetings three Wednesdays of each month from September to June, and may also hold special Board meetings as the need arises. In addition to the meetings themselves is the time it takes to prepare for the meeting. Our agendas usually have a number of action and information items covering a wide range of topics, requiring a full day of preparation.

Trustees also sit on various committees (e.g. Audit, Discipline, Parent Involvement), and fill other roles within the Trustees' responsiblities such as reviewing Policies, Governance Procedures, and the Governance By-Law, participating in Trustee-led initiatives such as Re-Imagine Forward, or writing reports for consideration by the Board.

When a parent calls with a concern, it doesn't matter what time of day it is, responding in a timely manner helps take the stress off families. This has never been more true than during the pandemic, when many students and staff struggled with the rapidly changing requirements and protocols. We are still working our way forward, over 2 years later. The challenges ahead of us will continue to require sensitivity and a focus on health and well-being as well as learning recovery.

Trustee wages are determined by a provincial formula which includes a base amount plus an enrolment amount. In the HDSB, Trustees earn $16,419.41 per year. In addition Trustees have access to up to $5,000 per year to cover their expenses and participation in professional development opportunities.

School Board Trustees are provincially legislated under the Ontario Education Act.  The Ontario Public School Boards' Association (OPSBA) has summarized Section 218.1 of the Act as follows:

The duties of the individual Trustee include:

  • carrying out their responsibilities in a manner that assists the board in fulfilling its duties under the Education Act, including the board’s duties under section 169.1, and under regulations and guidelines under the Act;

  • attending and participating in meetings of the board, including meetings of board committees of which they are a member;

  • consulting with parents, students and supporters of the board on the board’s multi-year plan;

  • bringing concerns of parents, students and supporters of the board to the attention of the board;

  • upholding the implementation of any board resolution after it is passed by the board

  • entrusting the day to day management of the board to its staff through the board’s director of education;

  • maintaining focus on student achievement and well-being;

  • complying with the board’s code of conduct.

OPSBA has published Making a Difference - Running for Election as a School Board Trustee which outlines the importance of having locally-elected Trustees representing their communities. 

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