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Qualicum school board looks at 39 per cent increase in trustees' pay

The union partner groups of School District 69 are initially supportive of an increase in school board trustee pay.

"Trustees in our district have been very reluctant in the past to increase compensation during an extended period of budget challenges," board chair Lynette Kershaw explained of a late addition to their ongoing budget deliberations. "As a result, trustee remuneration in our district has lagged behind other districts quite substantially."

"No sitting board can vote itself a raise, it's the obligation of the outgoing board to review remuneration for the upcoming board," she said, pointing out that the current trustee remuneration of $9,720 is well below the provincial average.

She proposed bumping the next board up 39 per cent to the provincial average of $13,500 and undertaking a full consultation process with stakeholder groups and partners before a final decision.

The chair's remuneration would go up to $16,500. The increases, supported by the board, would add a total of $11,670 to next year's budget.

Because they needed unanimous consent to give all the readings in one meeting, they passed the first two last week and have scheduled a meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 10 (tonight) in the PCTC forum.

"Taking a look at other jurisdictions, seeing what the average is and factoring in a COLA (cost of living increase), seems to be a fair way of coming up with an increase," said Mount Arrowsmith Teachers' Association president Debbie Morran. "I just wanted to point out that's exactly what we're trying to do for teachers across the province."

The board was set to vote on all three readings and adoption of the preliminary budget, which has to be submitted to the province by the end of June, but trustee Julie Austin said they should take more time.

"This year has been different, emotions are running high, we've had to make some weighty decisions and I think we need to give time to reflect," she said, voting against the bylaw.

She said it was a compressed budget process this year, but both trustee Eve Flynn and superintendent Rollie Koop said it wasn't, with the same amount of time for public input, just spaced out a bit different with the school closure process in the middle.

Flynn also pointed out that the budget is just their best intention and is often changed throughout the year anyway.

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