Board of education trustees unanimously passed a motion at Tuesday night’s board for a small pay increase.
The move followed a review of rates paid to the chair, vice-chair and trustees at school districts around Vancouver Island, most of which are higher.
As of July, the board chair for School District No. 72 will receive $14,262 a year, an increase of roughly $165; the vice-chair will get $12,875, an increase of $151; and trustees will get $11,930, or $99 more than they receive at present.
The district has been following the same process to look at trustee pay rates for more than a decade. In 2005, the district established a community-based committee to review trustee remuneration levels. The idea was to have the process operate at more of an “arm’s length,” as opposed to having the board decide on its own pay raises.
“They tried to create a formula they felt was fair,” secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick said at the May 29 board meeting.
The board began using the process in 2007, and since that time the review takes place on an annual basis in April, with changes to take effect that July 1.
“What we do is go in and update it, based on the changes for other districts,” Patrick told the board. “We’ve focussed pretty much on Vancouver Island districts, so it’s got more of a regional focus.”
The latest review process came back with a recommendation for slight increases, which puts board members within a dollar of the median figure for other boards on Vancouver Island. Victoria’s came in at the highest, with rates of $23,486 for the chair, $21,986 for the vice-chair and $20,486 for other board members.
There were three districts with lower rates for all positions: Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island West and Vancouver Island North. At $15,000, Saanich has a higher amount for the chair but lower amounts for vice-chair and trustees, at $10,928 for each. Sooke, Gulf Islands, Nanaimo, Qualicum, Alberni and Comox each has higher rates for the chair, vice-chair and other board members.
Trustee Daryl Hagen, who made the motion to accept the committee’s recommendation, said in the past the board aimed to keep the rates as low as possible.
“We were the lowest-paid trustees in the province, and we prided ourselves on it,” he said. “We went for years and years at the very bottom of the whole scale.”
Part of the aim of the committee review process, Hagen said, was to acknowedge the time involved with meetings and other board functions.
“I like this because you’re not really giving yourself a raise, it’s through a formula that has been tried and true over the years,” he said.
Hagen said the district might eventually need to review the formula it uses, depending on what changes come down from the provincial government regarding the business of the board.
Based on some reviews, Patrick said, there had been years with no increases. He also pointed out the federal government has recently removed the tax-free exemption for one-third of the stipend paid to officials such as school trustees, meaning their net incomes will be reduced. He expects to present a report to the board in the future on this development.