FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
For students and student trustees:
Q. What is a student trustee?
A. Student trustee is a provincially mandated role designated to advocate for student voice in the publicly funded education system (public and Catholic). This position is elected by students within their school board and serve as their elected representative on the board of trustees. They are responsible for facilitating communication on student issues and opinions between students and the school board by sitting on school boards and attending board meetings. Student trustees may suggest motions to advance issues and may cast a non-binding vote.
Student trustees are also involved with leading their Student Senate, or Student Advisory Council. Student Senates/SACs, if the board has one, often comprise of secondary school representatives from across the board that meet regularly. No two student trustees are alike, and each student trustee approaches their role differently, depending on the circumstances and expectations of their board.
Q. What are my rights as a student trustee?
A. Boards follow the Education Act for the role of student trustee, which includes details such as:
- “A student trustee has the same status as a board member with respect to access to board resources and opportunities for training”
- “the board shall reimburse student trustees for out-of-pocket expenses as if they were members of the board”
- “The amount of the honorarium…is…$2,500 for each complete year that the student holds office”
- Other than exceptions that prevent student trustees from having binding votes, participating in closed meetings, moving motions and having membership of the board, “ a student trustee shall have the same opportunities for participation at meetings of the board and of its committees as a member has”
Q. I’m a student trustee looking for some of OSTA-AECO’s resources…
A. Check out our resources page!
Q. How do I become a student trustee?
A. Student trustees are elected into their positions. You could speak to your principal or student government/council staff advisor for more information. Boards elect student trustees in a variety of ways, and the process may include applications, speeches, multiple voting stages, direct votes (board-wide), indirect votes (representative voting), etc. The ministry mandates that student trustee election processes must follow one of two procedures: a) if the board has one-year terms, they must be elected before March, or b) if the board has two-year terms, they must be elected before May.
Q. What are the advocacy priorities of OSTA–AECO from year to year?
A. As outlined in our association’s Vision Document, OSTA-AECO’s advocacy focuses on six broad pillars: Equity, Funding Formula Reform, Rural & Northern Education, System Modernization, Well-Being, and School Board Governance. This document outlines important areas that OSTA-AECO focuses its efforts on from year to year, while offering flexibility for a variety of initiatives.
Q. What are some of the things that OSTA-AECO has accomplished?
A. Some include…
- eLearning Report – OSTA-AECO released a survey that garnered 6,000+ responses, and created a report outlining that 95% of students did not approve of the proposal to mandate 4 eLearning credits as a graduation requirement.
- Student Platform – OSTA-AECO engaged students in a large scale consultation on the supports of well-being in schools, and provided Ontario’s political parties with an opportunity to include the recommendations in their education platforms.
- OPC Award – the Ontario Principals’ Council awarded OSTA-AECO for its work with the Vision Document and advocacy with the 2019 Outstanding Contribution to Education recognition.
Q. I have an idea to improve education. How do I make it happen?
A. Depending on your idea, you may want to reach out to your peers for support, your principal or student government staff advisor (school-level) or student senators or student trustee(s) (board-level). To reach out to OSTA-AECO, please refer to the Contacts page to get in touch with your current Executive Council members.
Q. How can I stay connected with OSTA-AECO?
A. Our Twitter and Instagram handles are @ostaaeco. Follow us for updates on student voice and opportunities for students!
For board staff:
Q. What resources or professional development does OSTA-AECO provide for Student Trustees?
A. Annually, OSTA-AECO holds three conferences. These include the Fall General Meeting in October, the Board Council Conference in February, and the Annual General Meeting in May. Each conference includes engaging sessions to allow student trustees to better understand their role, phenomenal guest speakers, and breakout sessions that allow student trustees to work with their designated board councils and working groups on focused yearly initiatives. Our conferences provide student trustees with the invaluable opportunity to network with and learn from fellow student trustees across the province. Student Trustees from all around Ontario advocate and collaborate as a team on the executive council, working groups, and board councils.
Q. What is an OSTA-AECO member board and what are the benefits?
A. OSTA-AECO members are fundamental to the advocacy efforts of OSTA-AECO. Through paying a membership fee, school boards are labelled as a strong supporter of the provincial advocacy the organization pursues. In exchange, members get the benefit of lower conference registration rates, social media promotion/endorsement, and more! You can find our current member boards here.
Q. How are membership fees calculated?
A. The membership fee is unique to each school board. There is a flat rate, uniform across all boards, in addition to a variable fee which is calculated at $0.05/student.
Q. What supervision measures are in place at OSTA-AECO conferences?
A. As a student organization, supervision is our top priority at all OSTA-AECO conferences and events. Our Board of Directors is made up of student trustee alumni who oversee and supervise conferences on-site. All members on the Board of Directors are required to have verified criminal record checks with vulnerable sector screening. As supervisors, board members are responsible for the safety of all attendees, with members certified in first aid and mental health training. Student trustees are required to check in with our Board of Directors each night to ensure the safety of student attendees. Rules and responsibilities are outlined in the Student Trustee Code of Conduct that each student trustee and parent/guardian signs prior to attending conferences.
Q. Is a school board able to send an additional representative to avoid students travelling and staying by themselves?
A. Student trustees always have the option to share a room with their co-trustee, or a student trustee from another school board, at the discretion of the board and student trustee. School boards also have the opportunity to send a chaperone(s) for direct supervision at the board’s expense.
Q. Are there bursaries to support conference attendance?
A. OSTA-AECO understands that some school boards are affected by the financial burden of conferences. In hopes of mitigating that burden, we provide an OSTA Supports Equity Grant. School boards are welcome to apply for this grant in their conference registration process.
For questions or inquiries about OSTA-AECO conference information, please contact the current Professional Development Coordinator as listed on our Contacts page.
For questions or inquiries about OSTA-AECO conference financials, please contact the current Chief Financial Officer as listed on our Contacts page.