School District 70 (SD70) trustees have voted to increase to their annual pay for the first time since 2009.
After comparing all school district trustees’ annual pay in British Columbia, Lindsay Cheetham, SD70 secretary treasurer, found that SD70 trustees’ remuneration is below average and hasn’t changed since 2009.
In addition, Cheetham said most districts in the province have three levels of pay—board chair, vice chair and trustee—and SD70 only had the two levels of board chair and trustee.
At an Oct. 25 SD70 school board meeting, trustees voted to start paying a vice chair amount as well.
“What we did is aligned ourselves to one of our comparative districts, School District 69—Qualicum,” Cheetham said. “We adopted their structure and dollar amount, so board chair remuneration becomes $16,267 per year. The vice chair will earn $14,911 and trustee remuneration will become $13,556 per year.”
The current vice chair is Pat Dahlquist and the position rotates on a six-month basis among the six trustees who are not the board chair.
“Another thing we’re going to do is update our policy now so we include a yearly review of the trustee remuneration using the B.C. consumer price index as a guideline,” Cheetham said.
According to the School District Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) for 2015, most of the SD70 trustees made $10,380 that year and the board chair made $12,002.
Trustee expenses are also outlined in the SOFI, with the lowest being $320 from trustee Pat Dahlquist and the highest expenses sitting at $8,028 from west coast trustee Gurmail Aujla. The remaining trustee expenses sit between $800 and just above $3,000.
Cheetham attributes Aujla’s much higher rate of expenses to travel time as he lives in Tofino.
“[Trustees] don’t have expense accounts as such. What they do is submit their expenses to us and we reimburse them for things that they’ve paid out of their own pockets.
They also have school district credit cards that they put things on that we pay directly,” Cheetham said.
“We don’t have a set dollar limit but we take a look at the expenses and if they’re deemed to be excessive then we will talk about it and okay them or not okay them.”