Tag Archives: OPSBA

Trustees don’t do it for the money

In a letter to Barbara Hall and the TDSB Governance Panel, Michael Barrett – President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association expresses concern about the consultations conducted by this panel and raises many excellent points:

  • Good governance can only be successful if roles and responsibilities are clearly understood, which extends beyond the board of trustees and their chair and must include the director of education and senior team members.
  • A school board is an organic, interactive entity and each time that dynamic changes through the election of even one new trustee, a new board is formed, bringing with it a new dynamic that influences the trustee team. (note: in Fall 2014, eleven new TDSB Trustees were elected out of 22 so this new board represents a very new dynamic!)
  • Trustees are the crucial link between the school board and their local community. Trustees are of the community; they generally live in their communities, know their community and advocate for their community. There is local control that ensures a centralized bureaucracy does not lose sight of varied and diverse communities.
  • Trustees serve as advocates, as ombudsmen, as originators of ideas, as guideposts and hold both the government and staff accountable. Advocacy for a mental health strategy, a coordinated ministry approach to education and services, for equity within aboriginal education and funding, fairness in special education funding, inclusiveness and technology in the classroom are a few of the ways that trustees make a difference.
  • Trustees do not do this for the money. (NOTE: The role of Trustee is paid as a part-time position and a TDSB Trustee earns about $26,000/year) The honorarium has been frozen since 2006. Elected trustees are devoted to public education and want to make changes to improve the system for all children.
  • Trustees contribute long hours attending committee and board meetings, reading and reviewing board/ministry correspondence and interacting with their constituents in a variety of ways (email, face to face, telephone and public meetings).
  • Trustees are interpreters and messengers for government initiatives. They provide and allow for local perspectives. They help families navigate complex rules to get children the support they need from their schools. They initiate innovative and effective programs that improve student achievement and well-being.
  • A school trustee is a member of a team – the board of trustees. Only the board of trustees has the authority to make decisions or to take action. A chair of the board of trustees is chosen by the board of trustees as someone they are proud to have as a leader who represents them. Although the chair assumes a leadership role, it is important that he or she adheres to the board’s directions and not act unilaterally.
  • The director of education must display excellence as an educational leader, to be politically sophisticated, to be aware of and active in legislative developments, to have an extensive knowledge of relevant provincial laws, to be an exemplary educator, and to personify effective communication.
  • The elected trustee board’s most influential governance relationship is the relationship they have with the director of education. A trusting, respectful and cooperative relationship between the board of trustees and the director of education and a mutual understanding of their distinct roles lead to effective policy implementation.
  • Trustees and school boards are doing amazing and wonderful things all across the province.