Greater Victoria school board delays pay increase vote

School District 61 trustees among the lowest paid of comparable districts

  • Oct. 23, 2013 6:00 a.m.

Greater Victoria school board trustees are waiting another month before they decide whether to bump up their pay in the face of tighter budget constraints.

Elected trustees in School District 61, which covers nearly 20,000 students in Victoria, Esquimalt, View Royal, Oak Bay and some of Saanich, haven’t seen a pay raise since 2008.

But as similar-sized school districts continue to increase trustee compensation, Greater Victoria now sits near the bottom of the pack.

For trustees like Dianne McNally, that stagnation is a good idea while provincial dollars continue to be scarce.

“For me to vote and give myself a raise, it just doesn’t sit right,” McNally said.

At just over $17,000 in annual compensation, Victoria sits last in trustee pay with comparable school districts (Victoria’s chair and vice-chair make another $3,000 and $1,500 respectively). Until 2011, Greater Victoria trustees used a pay formula that compared their expenses with similar-sized districts in Richmond, Burnaby, Langley, Abbotsford and Central Okanagan.

But in 2011, trustees decided to delay any pay increases until union bargaining agreements had been sorted out.

“We were facing teachers’ bargaining and we knew CUPE (education assistants, custodians and other support worker) was coming up, so we decided we would defer any discussion on compensation increases until those issues have been dealt with,” said Peg Orcherton, SD61 board chair.

Now, with a tentative 3.5 per cent pay increase for all CUPE employees looming over school districts, the board has to find savings within their school districts to pay those salaries.

Orcherton said trustees will have a full debate at their November meeting on the issue, but stressed the potential 10-per-cent pay increase is comparable to other school districts.

“There’s always politics around increases, but it is about comparable numbers,” she said.

By the numbers:

Victoria:

19,864 students

Trustee compensation: $17,424

Abbotsford:

19,394 students

Trustee compensation: $22,000

Langley:

19,902 students

Trustee compensation: $18,110

Burnaby:

25,023 students

Trustee compensation: $22,000

Richmond:

22,138 students

Trustee compensation: $21,692

Central Okanagan:

21,328 students

Trustee compensation: $17,870

Average trustee pay of comparable districts: $20,334

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