Refer to our Delegate Election FAQs for answers to many common questions.
NYSTRS' participating employers are required to oversee the election of delegates, who serve two-year terms. Delegates have two main functions: elect a teacher member to the Retirement Board at the Annual Delegates Meeting and serve as a liaison between NYSTRS and the members in their district.
Although not required, each delegate should also have a corresponding alternate, who would carry out these duties if the delegate were unable to serve.
1. What are the duties of a delegate?
Delegates attend a two-day annual meeting held in the fall at which a teacher member is elected to NYSTRS' Board. The delegate may also act as a liaison between NYSTRS and the members of their school district/college.
2. What are the duties of an alternate?
Alternates serve as backups to their corresponding delegates. The alternate may attend the Annual Meeting, but may only vote if NYSTRS is informed prior to the meeting that the delegate will not attend and the appropriate change has been made in NYSTRS' Employer Secure Area. Should the delegate vacate their position for any reason, the alternate would automatically assume the delegate position and the alternate position would remain vacant until the next regular election. (Note: Delegates and alternates are elected as a ticket and cannot be split.)
3. What defines eligibility to be elected as a delegate or alternate?
- Both delegates and alternates must be in-service, full-time (e.g., per-annum) employees who are NYSTRS members.
- Delegates and alternates are elected as a ticket and cannot be split. In other words, an alternate for Delegate A may not serve in place of Delegate B if the latter is unable to attend the meeting.
4. How is entitlement for a delegate and alternate determined?
- The number of delegates and alternates to which an employer is entitled is based upon the number of active NYSTRS members contractually employed at the district or college.
- The number of delegate/alternate tickets an employer is eligible to fill can be viewed within the Convention Delegates application of NYSTRS' Employer Secure Area. Employers should check this area each March to determine entitlement and/or vacancies to be filled.
5. How long of a term does the delegate/alternate serve?
The delegate/alternate serve a two-year term. The term during a regular election year (odd-numbered year) begins on August 1 and runs for two years ending July 31 of the following odd year. Delegates elected via special election serve out the remaining year of the two-year term served by a delegate elected through a regular election.
6. When is a delegate election held?
Regular elections of a delegate/alternate are held between March 1 and June 1 of odd-numbered years, with results to be submitted to NYSTRS by July 1. Special elections are held in even-numbered years, but only employers with openings in both the delegate and alternate positions of a ticket are eligible to participate. Special elections must be held between March 1 and October 1, with results submitted by October 6.
7. Who runs the election?
It is the superintendent/president’s responsibility to hold the election or designate someone to do so. Many schools/colleges have the election run by their local union. The only area mandated by the Education Law in the running of an election is that the election be held between the dates of March 1 and June 1 and that the results of the election be conveyed to NYSTRS no later than July 1.
8. What procedure is used for running a delegate election?
The Education Law does not mandate an election process, and NYSTRS has no authority to mandate how elections are run. It is left to the discretion of each school district/college to establish appropriate procedures.
9. If a delegate does not have an alternate, can they still be elected?
Yes. It is not mandatory for a delegate to have an alternate. However, should a delegate retire or vacate the position and there is not an alternate, the delegate position would be vacant until it could either be filled during the special election or during the next regular election.
10. Can a retired NYSTRS member who works part-time as a teacher participate in the delegate election?
No. To participate in the delegate election or to be elected a delegate/alternate, a person must be an active NYSTRS member.
11. Who pays the expenses for attendance at the Annual Delegates Meeting?
Under a State Comptroller’s ruling, local school districts/colleges cannot pay expenses for meeting attendance; therefore, the expenses are the responsibility of the delegate/alternate. (Also see a State Education Department opinion and a ruling by the Commissioner of Education.) Delegates should contact their local bargaining units about possible reimbursement.
12. What if the number of nominated delegates/alternates equals the number of delegates a school district/college is entitled to; is it necessary to hold an election?
No election is necessary in this case as it is considered an uncontested election. When entering the election results in the Employer Secure Area, the date of election entered should be the date the interested delegate(s) and alternate(s) names were submitted to the employer.
13. What if there are fewer people nominated than the number of delegates to which the school district/college is entitled?
If your school district/college does not receive enough interested members to equal the number of delegates, submit only the names of those interested. Should the school district/college receive any interested members for the vacant delegate position(s) at a later date, these vacancies may be filled the following year during the special election. Regular elections are held in odd years and special elections are held in even years. A special election is held to fill any vacant delegate positions which may have been vacated either due to retirement, resignation, lack of interest previously, etc.
14. What happens if a delegate and alternate position are both vacant?
A delegate/alternate position may only be filled during a special election, held in even-numbered years. A special election begins March 1 and continues through October 1 with results to be submitted through October 6 of even years. The term runs from when the delegate/alternate names are submitted to the end of the original delegate’s two-year term (July 31 of odd year). If an alternate position is vacated and the delegate remains, the vacant alternate position may not be filled.
15. Is it mandatory for a delegate or an alternate to attend the Annual Delegates Meeting?
No, it is not mandatory. However, if neither attends, the school district/college which they represent will not be entitled to a vote for the teacher member of the Board up for election that year.
16. Why does a BOCES have two district numbers?
A BOCES needs to hold an election for NYSTRS members employed by their district as well as oversee an election for their component districts. In their capacity overseeing the component district election, they are considered a supervisory district and have a separate district number. As a supervisory district, the BOCES is responsible for overseeing an election for those component districts employing fewer than 75 NYSTRS members. In this instance, a single election takes place at the supervisory level, with delegate entitlement based on the cumulative number of NYSTRS members employed by the under-75 component districts. Component districts employing 75 or more NYSTRS members are eligible to hold their own elections. They will be contacted independently by NYSTRS and the supervisory district will not be responsible for reporting election results for them.