Langley trustees vote themselves pay increases

Langley School District’s new fiscal year starts July 1 and that’s when trustee pay increases could kick in.

The Langley trustees approved pay raises which they have not had since 2008. They have agreed to proposed increases of more than $3,000 per person on the seven member board. The final decision will be made at the June 17 meeting. The trustee indemnity changes will be put out for public input.

“I think that its’ important and should be dealt with in public,” commented Trustee Alison McVeigh.

She and others noted that if the pay doesn’t change, it’s a reduced incentive for people to run for public office.

“We’re the lowest paid trustees in the block of eight,” McVeigh said.

The district has created a formula that averages trustee pay from eight Lower Mainland districts to set the amounts.

The pay will rise to $21,485 for trustees, $22,485 for vice chair and $23,485 for the chair.

This will cost an additional $23,625 annually ($3,375 for both the chair and vice chair, and another $16,875 for the five trustees.

An election will take place this November and trustees debated whether to wait and let the new board decide, with several admitting it’s uncomfortable to talk about amending their pay.

“I think the next board should squirm with this,” said Trustee Rod Ross.

He noted that the trustees took a pay cut during the district’s financial difficulties. The district ended up with a $13.75 million deficit which it cleared up over a few years.

He made a motion to have the pay raises take effect immediately.

Trustee Cecelia Reekie said the current budget is set but she was not opposed to a pay raise for the next budget: “I just think that it’s important that we honour the work that we do,” she said.

Trustee Candy Ashdown commented that she was not comfortable increasing the board’s pay in the midst of an atmosphere of economic instability and labour unrest in B.C.

“Ultimately it will come out of our classrooms,” she said.

The school board ultimately approved the raises to come into effect in July for the new fiscal year.

Trustee Rob McFarlane, who is board chair in the temporary absense of Wendy Johnson, said he would like the rates to be set by the B.C. government or some other body.

The formula averages school board pay from Abbotsford, North Vancouver, Delta, Langley, Richmond, Burnaby, Maple Ridge and New Westminister.

The average of the eight is $24,108.06 for the chair, $22,918.00 for vice chair and $21,485.56 for trustees.

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