Step 1 - Preparation for Election Process, and Supporting Information
Returning Officers' fee
The Ministry of Education provides funding directly to boards to contribute towards the cost of running triennial and staggered (mid-term) elections. Out of this funding comes the returning officer’s fee.
The election funding consists of two components: a base amount, which is the same for all schools, and a per- student amount for each full-time student. The funding formula is the same for all schools except stand-alone intermediate schools. For stand-alone intermediate schools the per student funding is more.
Check the Ministry of Education’s website: http://www.education.govt.nz for election funding for the particular year the election is being held in.
Examples of how to calculate these amounts and the amount to pay the returning officer can be found at www.trustee-election.co.nz.
If you have not received a letter of appointment that states the fee to be paid to you, the following are the recommendations you should discuss with the board chair prior to commencing your duties.
That the returning officer fee be calculated on the basis of 50% of the base amount plus 25% of the per-student amount.
That the agreed fee be paid in full regardless of whether there is a voting election.
The board can retrospectively claim election funding for by-elections from the Ministry of Education by submitting receipts for actual and reasonable costs attached to a reimbursement claim form. The claim form is available online at:
Information from the board
The following information should be provided to you by the board:
- The election date. School trustee 2016 triennial elections must be held between 13 May and 10 June 2016. The common election date has been set at 3 June 2016. As this date was chosen to ensure the best possible ﬁt of tasks and dates, any variance from this date will require you to set a different election timetable. Please use the Election Planner tool to calculate your election dates.
- The number of positions to be ﬁlled.
- If the board is opting into the staggered (mid-term) election cycle at these triennial elections, a special nomination form (Form 2) and special voting form (Form 6) will need to be used. If the school board is already in the staggered (mid-term) election cycle, the standard nomination form (Form 1) can be used, but only half the number of parent representative positions will be vacant.
- A letter of appointment conﬁrming the elections for which you are the returning officer, that is, parent and/or staff elections.
- The board chair’s name and contact details.
- Who to contact about obtaining access to the school voting roll.
You should then open an election ﬁle, which will subsequently be held by the school administration and which should include all relevant documentation.
All questions regarding the running of a triennial or staggered (mid-term) election should be directed to the NZSTA election advice line 0800 ELECTION (0800 353 284). For any other election call the NZSTA Advisory and Support Centre (0800 782 435). You can also email questions about triennial, staggered (mid-term) or by-elections at any time to: email@example.com, or make contact via: www.trustee-election.co.nz.
STEP ONE: Preparation for election process - supporting information
Elections must be held in accordance with provisions contained in the Education Act 1989 and the Education (School Trustee Elections) Regulations 2000. A copy of the regulations is included for your reference on pages 26-32 of this handbook, along with relevant sections of the Education Act (refer pages 21-25). Read the regulations ﬁrst. In this handbook these abbreviations are used for the legislation:
- section “x” means section “x” of the Education Act
- regulation “x” means regulation “x” of the Education (School Trustee Elections) Regulations.
As a returning officer you should be aware that where a matter is not dealt with in the Education Act or in the regulations you have the authority to conduct the elections as you see ﬁt; refer regulation 5(4)c. You do not, however, have the authority to alter the election timetable.
Ensure that you understand your key tasks and know the latest dates by which they must be completed. On the inside front and back covers of the handbook are the Countdown Diary and Step Summary. Pull-out versions can be found in the centre of the handbook. These can be photocopied and used as working documents.
NOTE: The intervals between legislative actions in the election timetable must not be altered. The dates for each action are determined by the chosen election date.
The board of trustees is required to appoint a returning officer for each election. One person may be the returning officer for more than one election. No person may be both a candidate and a returning officer for the same election.
Good independent practice requires that the school principal not be the returning officer.
Your responsibilities as returning officer are to prepare separate rolls of all persons eligible to vote in:
- the election of parent representatives
- the election of one staff representative, and
- any by-election for the above positions
- to call for nominations of people eligible to stand as candidates
- to receive nominations and determine eligibility to stand
- to ensure that the name of every eligible candidate is available for inspection at any reasonable time at the school, that is, from the time of receipt until polling day
- to receive candidates’ statements and, if necessary, edit these statements. NOTE: The only grounds for editing a statement are if you consider, on reasonable grounds, that part of the statement is likely to be defamatory or offensive, or the statement is too long. A statement of about 400 words is a reasonable length. NOTE: Retyping or sub-editing purely to improve the presentation is not a requirement
- to prepare and distribute by post or by delivering personally to each elector on the parent roll a voting paper containing the names of candidates for whom the elector is entitled to vote, together with candidates’ statements and a return envelope
- to prepare and distribute to each elector on the staff roll a voting paper containing the names of candidates for whom the elector is entitled to vote, together with candidates’ statements and a return envelope, or advise where these can be collected
- to receive all voting papers and ensure they are held in safe custody
- to open and examine all voting papers and envelopes to determine whether the votes meet the requirements for validity, and count the number of votes cast for each candidate
- to declare the results of elections, and
- to promptly complete and submit the two online Appendices so the Ministry of Education is advised of the outcomes of all elections.