Although it was probably a little awkward, School District 27 trustees voted unanimously at their last meeting to give themselves a pay raise.
To be clear, trustees are keeping their annual base stipends the same. Currently the annual base stipend is $12,500 per trustee, with the vice-chair receiving $13,500 per year and the chair getting $16,000.
Where the increases will be seen is in expenses claimed for meetings and travel time.
Trustees are going to pay themselves an additional $75 to $120 per “special purpose meeting,” plus the chair will receive an additional $25 per meeting with an acting chair receiving $50 per meeting.
Where the bills are going to be more noticeable is in “technological costs,” where the trustees voted to compensate themselves an added $50 per month for extra expenses such as Internet and cell phone charges (even though each trustee is given a district cell phone and laptop). On top of that, trustees also gave themselves a one-time $250 compensation to purchase equipment and installation to operate those laptops they were given.
Trustees also upped their travel claims to the tune of a maximum of $120 per day, and left room for the possibility of claiming child care expenses.
Considering the number of conferences they choose to attend, this could amount to a lot of money on the heels of an already stretched budget. Just last month, school support staff also voted for a pay increase that will impact the local district by about $450,000. Though their raise pales in comparison to teacher and support staff wage increases, it is sure to ruffle more than a few feathers of parents and students still stinging from new bussing schedules, school closures and mergers throughout the district.
We must all remember back when the newly elected trustees sat full of hope and promise as they moved forward through public consultations on school closures last year.
Meeting after meeting, the trustees held their ground despite the immense public pressure for them to fold on the proposed changes. Even if you didn’t agree with them, you at least had to respect their unwavering commitment to do something to better the future of our schools.
And although the trustees do manage a mega multi million dollar budget and the pay increases do put them more in line with the Cariboo Regional District board members, somehow you can’t help but be a little disappointed in the increase.