Chilliwack school district’s top earners get pay boost

The increase follows a seven-year salary freeze.

A handful of top salary earners at the Chilliwack school district received pay raises in the 2016/2017 school year, following a seven-year pay freeze.

The information on those salaries is made public through an annual compensation disclosure for exempt staff not subject to collective agreements. These are administration staff, whose pay structure is approved by the board of trustees and are regulated by the Public Sector Employers Act (PSEC).

The top salary in the district for the school year, as reported in October 2017 but recently released through PSEC along with all other district’s information, was for Evelyn Novak, superintendent of schools.

Her salary for last year was $173,683, plus benefits and a pension package. Other top earners include Gerry Slykhuis, secretary-treasurer ($144,572), and Rohan Arul-pragasam, assistant superintendent ($142,387). Directors of Instruction Janet Hall and Kirk Savage both earned $132,382.

Outgoing Director of Human Resources Maureen Carradice earned $101,926, however some of that compensation included service recognition paid out at her retirement. Incoming Director of Human Resources, Tamara Ilersich, earned $30,568.

All positions include benefits and pension, and some include other compensation.

Slykhuis said the new pay increases “reflected the move to a new provincial salary grid,” and indeed those pay increases are reflected across the province in school districts. When The Progress contacted PSEC about the increase, and lack of public notice, they acknowledged there wasn’t any notice made as it “affects a much smaller number of employees across the public sector.”

There were 73,000 non-union excluded employees as of April 2016, they said.

“In September 2012, government implemented an excluded compensation freeze in response to the economic conditions of the time and remained in place till July of 2015 by which time 100 per cent of unionized employees were receiving modest wage increases having settled under the Economic Stability Mandate,” said Kindrée Draper, corporate relations of PSEC. “While not a general wage increase, the employers must follow a process and any approved modest increases must be funded from the employers’ existing budgets.”

In Surrey – B.C.’s largest school district – superintendent Jordan Tinney’s total compensation was $334,833, including a $246,705 salary.

PSEC added this background:

Shortly after the management compensation freeze came into effect, the BC Public School Employers’ Association commenced significant work to determine competitive and defensible salary structures for principals and vice principals, as well as district-based executive and excluded staff.

This province-wide initiative, utilizing a third-party compensation consultancy and consistent with governance and technical compensation best practice based on total compensation review and analysis, resulted in revised salary structures for all district-based excluded employees and principals/vice principals in the province’s 60 public school districts.

While this work was underway, as an interim measure in order to address demonstrable issues of salary compression, salary inversion, and recruitment/retention, in the 2015-2016 school year modest increases were permitted to a maximum percentage of 2% effective July 1, 2015 and January 1, 2016 respectively for the positions of school principal and vice principal as well as for district-based exempt positions (with the exception of the positions of Deputy/Assistant/ Associate Superintendent and Secretary Treasurer).

The K-12 public education is now in the process of managed transition to the new salary structures approved by government in alignment with compensation policy direction. It is essential, in order to attract and retain qualified and experienced employees in supervisory, management, and leadership positions in the K-12 public education sector, that we are able to maintain a reasoned level of competitiveness with the external labour market.

It’s important to note that consistent with the rest of the provincial public sector, school districts’ other employee groups, including teachers and unionized support staff, have received and will continue to receive salary increases under their applicable collective agreements that include general wage increases of 5.5% over the period 2014-2019, in addition to three Economic Stability Dividends, which amount to a combined 1.2% that is ongoing.

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