School Board Governance

Governance provides a framework and a process for the allocation of decision-making powers. Good governance is the exercise of these powers through ethical leadership. School boards are the embodiment of local governance in action. Through their decisions and policies they demonstrate to their communities effective stewardship of the board’s resources in the interests of students and the community as a whole.

NEW! 2022-26 Good Governance Guide

The 2022-26 Good Governance Guide is now available! This comprehensive guide, developed by the Ontario Education Services Corporation (OESC) in partnership with OPSBA, has been expertly crafted to provide school trustees with the knowledge they need to effectively govern and lead their school boards.  

In this guide, you’ll find valuable information on topics such as trustee roles and responsibilities, how to craft effective communication strategies, and best practices for working with school staff and community members. The revised guide contains legislative, policy and funding changes that have occurred over the past four years, with specific relevance for Ontario’s public education systems. Whether you’re a new trustee or an experienced one looking to brush up on your knowledge, this guide is designed to help you make the most of your time in office.

In addition to the Guide, OPSBA and OESC also provide support for our trustees through the Trustee Professional Development Program, which provides additional information and guidance on a wide variety of governance-related topics.

Download the full Guide

Latest Updates

September 29, 2022 – Letter to Minister Lecce regarding electronic meetings of school boards

October 28, 2021 – Letter to Minister Lecce regarding School Board Trustee Codes of Conduct

September 3, 2019 – Canadian School Boards Association Literature review on the linkages between high-quality public education and governing school board

May 22, 2019 – OPSBA Letter to Minister Thompson re: the Minister’s Task Force on School Boards

On August 24, 2018, the government issued memo B 14 – Update: Education Funding for 2018–19. The memo contains information about new initiatives and programs as well as “Efficiencies and Redistributions for 2018–19.” Included in this section are changes to executive compensation (previously announced) and trustee honoraria. With regards to honoraria the memo states:

“Compensation adjustments are being suspended until the new government can conduct a review and put in place an appropriate expenditure management strategy. As a result, the ministry will not be increasing the base amount for the school board trustees’ honorarium as announced in the 2018–19 GSN memo (2018:B06). The base amount for district school board trustees will remain at $5,900. The ministry may review trustee honoraria in the future. In addition, the ministry will not be providing the trustees of Section 68 School Authorities an honorarium as announced in the 2018–19 Section 68 SB Memo (2018: SB13).”

OPSBA will be following up with the ministry’s governance branch about this and the other components that were included in the previous government’s governance review.

On May 3, 2018, Ontario Regulation 7/07 Student Trustees was filed and posted. This updated regulation allows student trustees to have one to two year terms, staggered terms and moves their election date. This regulation filing followed recent updates and additions to other governance-related matters including Code of Conduct, Honoraria and Electronic Meetings. Attached is the memo sent to Directors of Education about these four regulations.

On April 20, 2018, two regulations regarding governance were updated, filed and now posted:

  1. Ontario Regulation 357/06 Honoraria for Board Members – This regulation includes the increased base amount for all trustees. It also directs compensation to appointed Section 68 school board trustees – something we have long advocated for.
  2. Ontario Regulation 463/97 Electronic Meeting – This regulation has a longer implementation date – during the next term of 2018 to 2022. It will require a chair or designate to be “physically present for at least half of the meetings of the board for any 12-month period beginning November 15 and may provide that the chair or designate must be physically present for a greater proportion of meetings.”

On April 16, 2018, Regulation 246/18 Member of School Boards – Code of Conduct was filed. This regulation requires all school boards to adopt a code of conduct for Trustees by no later than May 15, 2019. In addition, all Trustee codes of conduct must now be made available to the public. If a school board already has a Trustee code of conduct, it must review it by May 15, 2019, and every school board must review its Trustee code of conduct by May 15 every fourth year thereafter.

Helpful Resources:

Local Government Week 2021, October 18 to 22 – #LocalGovWeek

Local Government Week (LGW) aims to increase youth and public awareness about the important role local government plays in our communities. Please join OPSBA, our member trustees and our education partners in raising civic awareness and promoting the role of trustees among Ontario students.

Local Government Week video messages:

OPSBA President Cathy Abraham

OPSBA Western Region Chair Arlene Morell

OPSBA Northern Region Chair Sheryl Evans

OPSBA Eastern Region Chair Dave Shields

OPSBA Central East Region Chair Donna Edwards

OPSBA Central West Region Chair Donna Danielli

OPSBA has updated resources to facilitate virtual sessions with students, including a Word document and a short PowerPoint presentation.

Microsoft Word Resource

Local Government Week Powerpoint Template

Common information includes:

  • Facts and figures
  • A brief history of the role of trustees
  • Why trustees matter
  • The “rules” of school in Ontario
  • The legislated responsibilities of a school board and its trustees
  • A brief outline of the people in a school board
  • Questions and discussion points to consider
  • Questions and discussion points to ask the class

Both documents have been created in a manner that allows you to modify them for use with either a Grade 5 or 10 classroom and to add local board information.

Be inspired about what you do locally and how it impacts your students and community. Check out the following story that appeared in the Toronto Star (December 2014) that demonstrated the role of a school board trustee: Secret life of a trustee: Behind the scenes, school board reps are busy putting out fires

Other useful resources include:

The social media hashtag for Local Government Week is #LocalGovWeek.


Governance Archive

Fall 2017 Governance-related issues – Consultation

OPSBA participated in a ministry consultation that included five areas of discussion: Code of Conduct & Integrity Commissioners, Trustee Honoraria, Student Trustees, Electronic Meetings and Director of Education Qualifications.  The attached memo outlines next steps for each of these topics, including Trustee Honoraria which was included in the GSN. There was to be an interim increase of $400 with the new base limit of $6,300.  The ministry was to establish a working group that included OPSBA to discuss this further. A working group was also to be created to develop a minimum standards for a Code of Conduct policy and OPSBA. It must be noted that many of the decisions and directions taken  reflect our advocacy work. Click here for the OPSBA submission.

On April 22, 2009, the Ministry of Education released its report School Board Governance: A Focus on Achievement. The report summarized the work conducted by the Ministry’s Governance Review Committee and includes 25 recommendations to be considered by the Minister. In May 2009, the Ministry introduced new legislation to amend the Education Act: Bill 177, Student Achievement and School Board Governance Act.

In June 2009, OPSBA received a copy of the consultation paper on Provincial Interest Regulations. The consultation paper offered an opportunity for input to stakeholders in anticipation of the drafting of the provincial interest regulations. These regulations flowed from the enabling legislation of Bill 78 that was enacted in June 2006.

On Oct. 26, 2009, OPSBA President Colleen Schenk and VPs Catherine Fife and Riley Brockington presented to the Standing Committee on Social Policy regarding Bill 177. Please click here for a copy of the speaking notes and the Association’s final written presentation.

On Nov. 30, 2009, Bill 177, Student Achievement and School Board Governance, was passed by the legislature.  Most of OPSBA’s recommended changes were incorporated into the legislation.

Regulations Flowing from Bill 177: