Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district trustees are gathering information as they consider whether to increase their wages as soon as this summer.
In March 2020, the current board voted in favour of adjusting remuneration once every four-year term in order to make compensation comparable to similar-size school districts. A committee, comprised of district staff and stakeholders, was assembled and examined board remuneration and its findings were discussed at the April 14 business meeting.
As it stands, Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s board chairperson earns $21,329 annually, while vice-chairperson and trustees make $19,329 annually.
Nanaimo’s student count for the start of the current school year was 14,309 pupils, comparable to Chilliwack, Maple Ridge, Prince George, North Vancouver and Kamloops-Thompson. North Vancouver’s chairperson is paid $29,700, its vice-chairperson $28,200 and trustees $27,400 annually. With lowest enrolment of comparison districts, Prince George paid its chairperson $21,200 a year, its vice-chairperson $19,700 and trustees $18,200.
Based on the report, the average remuneration for chairpeople is $25,472, vice-chairpeople $23,940 and trustees $22,627. The committee is recommending pay increases come into effect July 1 in order “to reflect like-sized districts” and to have the vice-chairperson see a raise immediately.
Adjustments to board remuneration, to account for inflation every year, would continue.
When asked about the potential of raises coming into effect in 2021 as opposed to in 2022, Charlene McKay said it was suggestion from the committee.
“The ad-hoc committee was put together so that trustees were at an arm’s-length of making any recommendations,” McKay told the News Bulletin. “They’ve come forward with the recommendation that this should be implemented as of July 1, this year, so that the district doesn’t end up further behind when coming back to that average of like-sized districts because the longer we wait, the bigger the gap becomes. So there’s consideration there for the board.”
After the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association deemed in 2015 that trustees weren’t eligible for benefits, it was decided trustees elected prior to 2018 would see benefits grandfathered. Since some trustees see benefits and some don’t, the committee recommended trustees not receiving benefits see a monetary equivalent, in effect until “grandfathered trustees are no longer serving.”
However, at the meeting, trustee Stephanie Higginson introduced an amendment that would see benefits ceasing altogether at the end of the current board’s term in October 2022. Higginson said it’s an issue that has come up a lot.
“I do understand that some of use came to this job this term with the recognition and understanding that we could be getting benefits and we count on them as a result of that, so my feeling is that instead of continuing a practice that has different people doing different things, let’s just end it at the end of this term,” said Higginson.
The matter will go before the school board at its April 28 meeting. If approved at that time, the recommendations would go out for 30-day public consultation.