School commissioners play a key role. Elected by the citizens, they determine the orientations of the school board, taking into consideration the interests of the students, parents and electors of their community.
Since the school board is an autonomous local government, the commissioners, who together make up the council of commissioners, exercise responsibilities comparable to those of municipal councillors.
Since 2014, the chairs of school boards are elected by universal suffrage, meaning that the electors choose the person who will chair their local school board.
The commissioner decides on the following matters:
- the orientations and priorities of the school board
- educational and administrative policies
- the school board’s strategic plan
- the use of schools and training centres under the school board’s jurisdiction
- the equitable distribution of human, material and financial resources among the schools and training centres
- the school transportation policy (including fees and walking distances)
- summer courses offered and related fees
- awarding of professional service contracts (eg. in architecture or engineering) or hygiene and sanitation service contracts
- the budget orientations and expenses to be authorized
- the Policy on School Daycare Services
- affiliation with national or international organizations (e.g. International Baccalaureate) or withdrawal from these organizations
- fees for renting out rooms or space to municipal or community organizations
- social projects to prevent students from dropping out or to eliminate violence and bullying
Time commitment and remuneration
The council of commissioners usually meets once a month. Since the elected officials represent their community, they must take the time to become familiar with the issues that concern them and to inform parents, electors, the governing boards and the community as a whole of the decisions taken.
The commissioners’ remuneration is determined by the council of commissioners and varies according to the number of students in the school board. The government establishes benchmarks and decrees the maximum amount that may be paid. The basic remuneration of a commissioner may range from $3 000 to $5 000 in the case of school boards with fewer than 50 000 students. It may be over $11 000 in the case of a school board with 50 000 or more students.