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Voter's guide to school board elections

Last Updated Oct 22, 2018 at 11:11 pm EDT

A young boy gets ready for his first day of school in Toronto on Sept. 4, 2018. CITYNEWS/Craig Wadman

With John Tory pitted against his former city planner in Jennifer Keesmaat, and reconfigured ward boundaries turning former political friends into foes, there are plenty of intriguing plot-lines heading into the municipal election on Monday, October 22.

But aside from Rob Ford’s former driver Sandro Lisi running to be the Toronto District School Board trustee in Etobicoke North, we don’t hear a lot about the people who will ultimately help craft the educational experience for hundreds of thousands of students, not to mention make key decisions about multi-billion dollar budgets.

The battle for mayor and various dog fights for reduced council seats may garner most of the headlines, but the third column on your ballot shouldn’t be ignored.

Here’s what voters need to know about school trustees and the key role they play in shaping public education.

City of Toronto sample ballot by CityNewsToronto on Scribd

What do school trustees do?

Trustees are elected members of the school board, the body that operates the province’s publicly funded schools.

They are locally-elected representatives of the public and they advocate for public education. Trustees set the budget for the whole school board district as well as policies.

They are also accountable to their communities and must consult with parents, students and supporters of the board when developing the board’s multi-year plan.

According to the Ontario Education Services Corporation (OESC) website: “A trustee’s role is to maintain a focus on student achievement, well-being and equity and to participate in making decisions that benefit the board’s entire jurisdiction while representing the interests of their constituents. Trustees must also communicate the views and decisions of the board back to their constituents.”

Duties include: (Source: OESC)

    • Establishing the board’s multi-year strategic plan, which includes the vision to ensure a strong public education system
    • Setting goals for student achievement, well-being and equity
    • Monitoring progress against the board’s strategic goals and priority areas
    • Promoting accountability throughout the school board
    • Allocating resources in ways that ensure equity of outcomes and demonstrate accountability
    • Establishing a respectful, caring, professional climate throughout the school board
    • Creating collaborative relationships inside the board and across the community
    • Promoting continuous improvement
    • Promoting community involvement and establishing communications
    • Holding the director of education accountable as they lead, execute and monitor activities on behalf of the board of trustees
    • Ensuring effective stewardship of the board’s resources which includes passing the budget


To see what the ballot looks like in your ward, visit: https://myvote.toronto.ca/home

Who can run?

To run for any of the four school boards a person must be:

  • a Canadian citizen
  • at least 18 years of age
  • a resident in the area of jurisdiction of the board
  • not legally prohibited from voting
  • not disqualified by any legislation from holding municipal office


Learn more here

Who can vote?

You are eligible to vote in the election for a school board trustee if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • you are a Canadian citizen
  • you are aged 18 or older
  • you qualify to vote for that particular school board


Learn more here

Who is running?

For a full list of certified candidates, click here

How much do trustees get paid?

Trustees receive an honorarium made up of an annual base amount that varies from board to board. Toronto District School Board trustees earn $25,507 a year.

What are the four Toronto school boards?

Toronto District School Board (TDSB): This is the default. Unless you are qualified to vote for a separate or French school board, you will vote for the TDSB.

Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB): You must be Roman Catholic and a separate school board supporter or the spouse of a separate school board supporter. If your spouse is Roman Catholic and you are not, you’re not eligible.

Conseil scolaire Viamonde (French public school board): Your first language must be French and you must be a supporter (or the spouse of a supporter) of the French-language public school board.

Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud (French Catholic school board): You must be a Roman Catholic, your first language is French and be a supporter (or the spouse of a supporter) of the French separate school board. If your spouse is Roman Catholic and you are not, you’re not eligible. (Supporter refers to which school board the school portion of your property taxes goes to.)

Learn more here

When does the current term end:

Nov. 30.

When does the new term begin:

Dec. 1.

How long is each term:

Four years

New TDSB ward boundaries:

The Toronto District School Board approved a new realignment plan for its 22 boundaries that aligns with the 25 federal/provincial electoral boundaries in the City of Toronto. The new boundaries will come into effect on Dec. 1, 2018, when the new term of office begins.



To view the new maps that list the schools within each ward, click here. 

Information compiled from City Of Toronto, Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, TDSB, TCDSB, Conseil scolaire Viamonde and Conseil scolaire de district catholique Centre-Sud