A pay raise is being suggested to Chilliwack school trustees, but it falls well below the 30 per cent hike requested by one of them earlier this year.
Trustee Darrell Furgason made a motion back in January for remuneration hike of 29.6 per cent, calling the current remuneration of about $19,000 “meagre.” He asked the board to consider adjusting its own remuneration schedule so that trustees would get abotu $25,000 instead.
And while the increase seemed dramatic, and was coming from a newly-elected trustee, the trend across the province this year has been stark increases for trustees. That’s because of a change in federal legislation that eliminated a tax exemption effective Jan. 1 2019.
Furgason’s motion led to a discussion of the proper way to go about reviewing remuneration, and the board voted to strike an ad-hoc committee. That committee ended up comprising two former school trustees (Silvia Dyck and Walt Krahn), two DPAC representatives (Michelle McGrath and Jessica Clarke), and two community members (Don Davis and Glenn Froese.)
They have met and are proposing an increase of 8.3 per cent, which would restore net remuneration to what trustees were getting before the tax changes.
The current trustee stipend is $19,293 a year, vice chair is $20,258 and chair is $21,222. The new adjusted total stipend, if approved by the board, would be $20,990 for a trustee, $22,229 for vice chair and $23,762 for chair. Those numbers are based on the median rate of medium-sized school districts in B.C.
“An increase in remuneration of 8.3 per cent would compensate trustees for the difference in take home pay by bringing remuneration back to the level it was at are prior to the change in legislation,” a report to the board states. The board will review this report at its April 30 meeting.
The committee looked at remuneration in its entirety. They also suggest continuing the practice of a July 1 cost of living increase.
In addition, they’ve suggested that attendance at the BC School Trustees Association Annual General Meeting should be paid for from the district’s General Governance Budget rather than individual trustee’s professional development accounts.
Trustees would also continue to be responsible for their own health and pension benefits, an item that was discussed in January. The board of education’s April 30 regular board meeting is livestreamed on their Youtube channel.