NORTH PERTH – The Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) provided an information session on May 31 ahead of the Oct. 24 municipal election. The session was meant, as Director of Education Lisa Walsh said, to clarify any issues for attendees.
“Our hope is that after this evening,” she said, “you have a clearer understanding of the role of a trustee, what a trustee does in our system, and that you’re inspired to submit your nomination papers and run for this very important role.”
According to the AMDSB’s recruitment overview, trustees are locally-elected positions that represent their communities. They are responsible for supporting the Director of Education, staff, and “the student achievement and well-being focus” of the Strategic Plan. The next four year plan will be put out in 2024, though they do ‘tweak’ it every year. They are also responsible in overseeing a budget of approximately $200 million. As acting Chair of the Board and Trustee for North Perth Nancy Rothwell pointed out, they are also responsible for the hiring of the Director of Education and the completion of performance appraisals.
They are not, they stress, individuals with a personal issue to resolve or people uninterested in being a public figure. They are also not expected to work full-time. They are required to attend meetings, commune with parents, students, and other community members.
Office is held for four years, in this year’s case from fall of 2022 to 2026. There are bi-monthly meetings, committees, and school council meetings. They estimate that an average of 15 hours a week is associated with the role, along with professional development days. Most of these are online; however, there are now conferences occurring in Toronto that may be required.
The Education Act recognizes that the position is part-time and trustees will often have full-time jobs or other commitments. These commitments will be accommodated.
The AMDSB is a sprawling board and they do pay mileage for traveling, though meetings occur online so travelling to the board office in Seaforth will not be necessary for attending meetings. That change was made prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, when everything transitioned online, to save money. There will be other meetings and events that are required to attend in person.
As a public representative, the only constant from month to month is communication. A trustee will get phone calls, emails, and questions anywhere from the grocery store to the arena.
Anyone interested in running can submit nomination papers in their municipality with a filing fee ($100) before Aug. 19.
More information, along with the recording of the information session, can be found on the AMDSB’s website and YouTube page. Broader information can be found at elections.ontarioschooltrustees.org.
Connor Luczka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner