The purpose and function of a Student Trustee is very similar to the role of a Trustee. Student Trustees are democratically elected by their peers to represent the collective voice and opinion of students in the board to the Board of Trustees. Student Trustees participate in monthly board meetings and regularly scheduled board committee meetings.
At monthly board meetings, the Student Trustee(s) typically delivers a report on their activity for the corresponding month as well as progress on their initiatives. Student Trustees are encouraged to participate in board discussions, but they do not have a binding vote; although their vote does not count, it must, however, be recorded. Student Trustees may not move a motion but can recommend a motion through another Trustee on the board. To engage with their peers, Student Trustees frequent schools within their boards, meet regularly with their Student Senate, and organize initiatives that enable them to gain the perspective of their constituents.
The fundamental purpose of allowing a Student Trustee to sit on the school board is to ensure appropriate dialogue between students and their policymakers. Student Trustees do not speak solely for their friends, students at their school, or students with a specific set of needs, but for every student in their school board. This includes elementary and secondary students, students with special education needs, students in specific programs (e.g. extended French or Enrichment), and students in all curriculum streams. Although at first this seems like an overwhelming task, Student Trustees should strive to begin by speaking to all these types of students. This consultation will provide Student Trustees with a basic understanding of issues affecting your constituents (students). The most conventional way of consulting students from a variety of schools and circumstances is through a Student Council or Student Senate (similar to a district-wide Student Council). This body is usually chaired by the Student Trustee(s) and has member students from each school in the school board. The Student Trustee(s) can then facilitate discussions on issues the board is facing through this student body. Other options for student consultation include visiting schools, website based forums or surveys, and informal discussion with students.