Municipal Election 2014

Trustees: The Invisible Part of a Municipal Election (Candidate Submission)

The Board of Trustees is an important governing body that everyone should watch carefully and know intimately, and not just every four years during the last few weeks of a campaign.

By Christine Bingham
Published October 25, 2014

During a municipal campaign, precedence belongs to the Mayoral and Council candidates. It's a given. But why do School Board Trustee candidates often feel invisible to a large portion of that same voting population?

While I have been campaigning door-to-door, people have said things like: "I don't have children in the school system"; "I didn't know we could vote for Trustees"; and "It doesn't matter who gets in because nothing changes".

It is very disheartening that the average person can feel they do not matter in the choice of elected officials who govern the education of students who will one day be our community professionals, neighbours etc.

Whether you have children or not, these young people are the future generation.

What significance can a Trustee be to the average person? Why should a taxpayer with no children in the system vote for a Trustee?

Three Significant Reasons

  1. Trustees are the overseers of our children's education from JK to High School: an average of 14 years.
  2. They are the advocates and the decision makers to the Board of Education.
  3. Your tax dollars, whether you have children in the system or not go to the Ministry of Education. They are a Provincial body.

Role of School Board Trustee

The Board of Trustees is made up of eleven elected officials who govern our children's education. They are the decision makers, the advocates and liaisons for all children's education.

Aside from attending Board Meetings, they may choose to sit on the following committees. Mandatory Committees:


Liason/Representatives to Associated Agencies:

Advocates and Liasons:

The Professional Development Program for School Board Trustees [PDF] states the role of the elected Board of Trustees:

In broad terms, it is the role of the elected board to:

  • govern in a manner that is responsive to its entire community;
  • act in the interests of all learners in the district;
  • advocate actively for students, their learning and their well-being in the board's work with the community, the municipality and the province;
  • promote confidence in publicly funded education through its communications about the goals and achievements of the board.

The Board of Trustees and the City of Hamilton have a liaison committee which create partnerships such as schools and community centre joint ventures.

A Trustee does not receive of an hourly wage or a salary but rather an honorarium. A Trustee can work as few as 15 hours a week or turn it into full time hours. Most Trustees do have full/part time occupations which can dictate the amount of hours attending to their duties.

The Board of Trustees is a governing body that everyone should watch carefully and know intimately, and not just every four years during the last few weeks of a campaign.

The Board of Trustees should be held accountable by the voting community. These days, with things like government-mandated school closures and the inadequate school funding formula, it is crucial that citizens are informed of what the Trustees are voting on at the Board level.

Let's make sure that Trustee candidates are understood by the voters of this city!

Christine Bingham is a parent of a Parkview Secondary School student. She is also a candidate for Public School Trustee for Wards 1 and 2 in the 2014 Municipal Election.


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