New West school board to vote on 2% raise, rule change on trustee pay

The New Westminster school board is set to consider roughly 2% raises for themselves, while also reviewing a policy that automatically gives trustees raises based on inflation.

Staff are bringing two submissions related to trustee remuneration to the board’s operations committee meeting this week, including one that would replace a clause that automatically gives trustees raises each year.

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Policy 7 (board operations) of the school district’s policy manual currently includes a section that says trustee pay “shall be adjusted on an annual basis based on the most recent five-year rolling average of Vancouver’s consumer price index.”

If the revisions to the policy are passed, staff will instead inform trustees of the five-year rolling average of Vancouver’s CPI, a measure of inflation that gauges increases (or, rarely, decreases) in the cost of certain goods and services. Trustees would then vote annually on the potential raises.

The CPI averaged out to 1.92% annually in the last five years, according to a staff report, which would mean most trustees could see raises of $476, while the vice-chair would get a raise of $509 and the chair would get a raise of $542.

That would add up to total annual pay of $25,251, $27,011 and $28,772 respectively, according to the staff report.

Staff represented by CUPE, including support staff, approved increases of 2%/2%/2% over the next three years, and the same raise is currently on the negotiation table for the New Westminster Teachers’ Union. Management’s most recent raise was 1.75%.

Trustee stipends were a touchy subject this time last year, when Trustee Mary Lalji pushed back against a 1.6% (roughly $30 a month) raise for trustees.

“I strongly believe that increasing our funds, where we could take these funds and directly put (them) back to our students in different programs, would be an asset for a board, and it would show student support at the board level,” said Lalji, who has been on medical leave since January last year, at the time.

The rest of the trustees disagreed, however, and in fact went even further to approve an 11% raise for themselves in February.

The larger raise was intended to offset a federal government policy that effectively raised taxes on elected officials – rather than only taxing two-thirds of their pay, the feds now tax the entire stipend.

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