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As a member of a school board you take your place in a history that started in 1816 when school trustees became the first democratically elected representatives in Ontario. Taking up the office of school board trustee is a call, not only to carry on that tradition of local democracy, but to improve it. It’s an opportunity to leave a legacy that contributes to one of the strongest education systems in the world.

Setting the conditions that will provide a high quality education for every student to succeed in school and in life is the absolute first priority of a school board. It is why trustees, without exception, run for office.

As a leader in school board governance, your job is to ensure that Ontario’s education system continues to adapt and transform to meet the ever-changing needs and challenges of our twenty-first century world. We hope you find yourself inspired by the challenges of your new position and by the influential role you will play as a member of your school board.

This guide offers you a substantive introduction to the work of effectively governing a school board. Your many and varied responsibilities from strategic planning to policy-making to budget-setting to community engagement are all focused on the central goal of improving student achievement and well-being. The chapters in this guide offer practical information on Ontario’s education system and on your role as a leader within this system. This resource is a collaborative effort of Ontario’s four school board/trustee organizations, supported by staff advisors from the Ontario Ministry of Education. It is also available in English and French at the following website:

We congratulate you on being elected. We thank you for contributing your time, intellect, passion and commitment to the improvement of publicly funded education in Ontario. We wish you a term as trustee that brings you a sense of accomplishment and professional satisfaction. Through your board service, you are making a contribution to the achievement and well-being of today’s children and youth and helping to shape their future and the future of Ontario.