The School District 72 board has voted for a pay increase following an annual review of remuneration levels.
As has been practice for more than a decade, the board had referred the matter to an independent committee to consider the amounts the chair, vice-chair and trustees are paid.
“We’ve been using this formula since 2007,” secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick said at the May 14 board meeting.
The approach is to find a level appropriate to amounts trustees from other districts on Vancouver Island receive for their work.
The committee looked at districts across Vancouver Island and what each pays the chair, the vice-chair and remaining board members. Victoria represents the ceiling for each, paying the chair $24,482; vice-chair, $22,982; and trustees, $21,482. Vancouver Island West, based in Gold River, represents the low end, with pay of $12,000; $10,750; and $9,000, respectively.
Across the Island, the median levels are $15,155,76; $13,889.29; and $12,852.79, so the recommended amounts, which the board approved, are in line with the median amount. For 2019/20, the calculated remuneration amounts will be $15,156 for the chair, $13,889 for the vice-chair and $12,853 for each remaining board member. Based on amounts as of April, these represents respective hikes of $468, $790 and $716 per year.
One of the other factors influencing the decision for the latest annual review this year is a change to tax laws by the federal government. It has removed a one-third tax exemption that elected officials for local government could claim, meaning all remuneration they receive will now be taxable.
Patrick told the trustees the pay levels for different boards for the latest review take the tax exemption change into account.
“Boards deal with it differently, but the results of the decisions are reflected in here,” he said.
Members of the board emphasized that pay was not the motivation for their decision to run for the position of trustee.
“Often, it’s hard to give yourself a raise,” said veteran trustee Daryl Hagen.
He recounted how when he joined the school board almost 30 years ago, the board members were at the bottom of the pay scale among school trustees in B.C., but he added that the work load has changed with the times.
With handing the responsibility to an independent committee for a recommendation, the board can get an impartial opinion on the pay they should receive.
“This is fair, balanced and it’s open,” he said.
Chair Richard Franklin added that some members of boards in the Lower Mainland earn “upwards of $40,000” a year for doing the same work, while trustee Joyce McMann said she had been unaware when she first ran for the board that she would receive remuneration for the work.
Vice-chair John Kerr also pointed out the demands on boards have grown in recent years, with the work entailing more than attending a couple of meetings each month of the school year.
“This is a fairly intense job at times,” he said.