Black Gold School Division


Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to do to be registered as a trustee candidate?


Process for becoming a candidate

Becoming a Trustee


What are the qualities of a successful trustee?

Prepared to put students first…
Successful school trustees put the needs of students first. They run for office because they are committed to making things better for Alberta’s children.

An effective communicator…
School trustees ensure that the wishes of the whole community are reflected in the management and operation of the Division’s schools. Trustees must be willing to ask the community what it needs and wants from its schools. Trustees must strive to inform the community about the school board’s plans and decisions.

A team player…
A school trustee, acting individually, does not have the authority to make decisions. Only the school board, in public session, has the power to make decisions. While an interest in a particular school or issue may prompt you to seek office, as a school trustee, you are responsible for all schools in the jurisdiction. There is no room for personal agendas in effective school board service.

Not necessarily an “education expert”…
You don’t have to be an “education expert” to serve as a school trustee. The ideal school board includes people from all walks of life. The school trustee does not serve as a professional educator or as the spokesperson for a particular Interest group or region. The effective school trustee considers the wishes of all parents, students and community members.

General Qualities of a Trustee…

  • Politician
  • Goal setter
  • Planner
  • Evaluator
  • Financial planner
  • Policy maker
  • Communicator
  • Legislator
  • Leader ‘Governor


What is a trustee liable for?

All authority delegated by the province is to the corporate school board; not to individual trustees. With the four following exceptions any action taken against the school board is against the corporate board – not individual trustees.

  • Improper Use of Funds:  If a school board uses money acquired for capital expenditures for unauthorized purposes, the trustees who were on the board when the board approved the improper application of the capital money, whether or not they are still trustees, are jointly and severally liable for the payment to the board of the amount of money applied to the unauthorized use (s.184, Alberta Education Act).
  • Non-Performance of Statutory Duties: Trustees who fail or refuse to perform statutory duties imposed by various statutes may be held personally responsible (e.g., s.112 of the Employment Standards Code could hold trustees jointly and severally liable for unpaid wages).
  • Personal Gain: If a court declares a trustee disqualified from remaining on the board due to his/her personal gain from contracts with the board, the trustee may be ordered to pay the board any profits.
  • Breaches of Common Law:  Trustees may be held personally liable for breaches of common law such as acting in bad faith, in a discriminatory manner, or in abuse of their powers. It must be noted that actions against such breaches are likely to be successful only where the evidence presented is clearly indisputable.


What if a trustee disagrees with a decision the board makes?

Share and defend your views, but listen to the views of others You won’t “win” on every issue you care about. In the charged and urgent arena of public education, expect to be flexible, even as you honor your deepest values and commitments. There will be times when change must be made, when tradition cannot be honored or when pressure must be resisted. Sometimes, you’ll measure your school board’s success not by how agreeable you all are, but by the board’s ability to disagree respectfully and have a spirited discussion followed by a difficult vote. After a difficult vote, effective boards embrace the decision and move forward together.


Do I have to vote on every motion?

Every trustee must vote on every motion – except if a trustee has a pecuniary interest in the matter or if the school board votes to excuse that trustee from voting on the matter.


What if my spouse or interdependent adult partner is a Black Gold employee?

At the first board meeting of their term trustees are required to disclose any pecuniary interests they may have.  A trustee with a pecuniary interest is required to leave the board room and/or abstain from voting on any motion that may provide benefit to their family member.


What exactly are pecuniary interests?

Section 170 of the Alberta Municipal Government Act  describes pecuniary interest as something which could monetarily affect you, your spouse, or adult interdependent partner, or children, your parents or the parents of your spouse (in other words, your immediate family), or a business which employs you or in which you have an interest. Specifically, pecuniary interest means an interest in a matter which could monetarily affect:  you,  a corporation, other than a distributing corporation, in which you are a shareholder, director or officer  a distributing corporation in which you – beneficially own voting shares carrying at least 10% of the voting rights attached to the voting shares of the corporation or of which you are a director or officer  a partnership or firm of which you are a member. You must decide when you have a pecuniary interest.The Board cannot make the decision for you.


What is the time commitment required?

The work schedule of a trustee can vary greatly depending on the time of year. In general, BGSD trustee work occurs during the school year and often, but not always, during the school day. Successful trustees should have the ability to be very flexible in their work schedules.

Below are a few examples of the required/expected engagements that trustees must attend (please note that this is not an exhaustive list):


  • Alberta School Boards Association  Annual General Meetings: 2x per year = 4 days
  • Regular Board meetings: 11x per year = 11 days
  • Committee of the Whole meetings: 6x per year = 6 days
  • School Visits: 10 days per year
  • Committee Work: Varies by committee
  • Professional Development: Varies: 2 – 4 days per year
  • Spring and Fall District Review and Planning: 2 days each


  • Attending School Council meetings: Varies 2 – 4 evenings per month
  • Representing the Board at school events: Varies 6 – 12 events per year
  • Reading and meeting preparation 2 – 4 hours per week.
  • Council of School Communities   (CoSC) 2 events per year


What compensation do trustees receive?

Trustees receive a base remuneration paid monthly. The vice-chair of the board and the Chairperson receive amounts above the base to reflect the additional responsibilities they may have. All trustees are eligible for professional development allowances, with a maximum available each year.

Trustees may receive per diem payments for taking part in board retreats, conferences and seminars, discipline hearings and other board-approved business.

Each trustee also receives a standard amount monthly to cover office expenses. Mileage is paid at the current Alberta Government rate for school board related travel including travel to regularly scheduled board meetings.

Trustee remuneration is reviewed annually as part of the district’s budget process and is disclosed publicly on our website.



Who is eligible to become a trustee in Alberta?

In order to be eligible to run for a School Board Trustee, you must:

  • be at least 18 years old;
  • be a Canadian citizen;
  • have lived in Alberta for at least six consecutive months immediately preceding nomination day, and you live within the boundaries of the jurisdiction in which you wish to run.

In public school jurisdictions, you must:

  • be eligible to vote in the election;
  • have lived in the local jurisdiction and the ward, if any, for at least six consecutive months immediately preceding Nomination Day*


Who is not eligible to become a trustee in Alberta?

You are not eligible to run if, on Nomination Day, you:

  • are an employee of any school district, school division, charter school or private school as of nomination day – unless you take an unpaid leave of absence to run before the last working day prior to nomination day;
  • are an auditor of the jurisdiction in which you want to be a candidate;
  • do not meet the residency requirement for the jurisdiction in which you want to run;
  • are otherwise ineligible or disqualified as outlined under section 22 of the Local Authorities Election Act.


What is an “In Camera” meeting?

While school board meetings are held in public, the board is able to meet in camera (in private) in certain circumstances. It may be a breach of a trustee’s fiduciary duty or the trustee’s code of conduct to disclose the content of in camera meeting discussions.


What do I do if someone comes to me with a problem at a school or with a staff member?

Black Gold supports the right of parents and members of the public to make inquiries into the conduct of operations of the Division. In the interests of open communication, the Superintendent believes that inquiries must first be directed to the staff members most directly involved in the operations in question. If the parent or member of the public is not satisfied with the response at that level, he/she is to be encouraged to follow the lines of authority as appropriate. (BGSD Admin Procedure 152)