By a narrow margin, Trustees for the Okanagan Skaha School District gave themselves a raise this week.
The 1.1 per cent pay hike, which comes into effect in September 2015, passed by a 4-3 vote, with Trustees Bruce Johnson, Barb Sheppard and Bill Bidlake opposed.
Johnson repeated his concerns that in light of ongoing cuts to the school district budget and an ongoing wage freeze for administrative staff, this was not the right time for trustees to give themselves a raise.
“With all the cuts we are making, this is not necessary,” said Johnson, adding that he doesn’t feel comfortable with a raise until the Ministry of Education chooses to fully fund existing wage agreements and releases the freeze on administrative and excluded staff.
Johnson also declared that if the raise was voted through, he would donate his share to help pay for administering the local bursary foundations, a move that was echoed by Bidlake.
Trustee Shelley Clarke pointed out that in her nine years as a trustee, she only had one raise. Unlike some of the other trustees, she pointed out that she did not have a pension income, and therefore counted on her trustee pay to help provide for her family.
Former chair Ginny Clarke said the scarcity of increases went back further. Prior to 2003, she said they had gone 13 years without an increase and they had been sporadic since.
Derek Hurst, chair of the District Parent Advisory Committee, supported the pay increase.
“You need to feel good about paying people what they are worth,” he told the board, adding that fair pay is needed to attract good people to the job. “You get what you pay for.”
The current rate of pay for a trustee is $10,620 and $13,290 for the board chair, based on a September to June year. Van Alphen said the raise amounts to a $15/month increase for her, and about $12/month for trustees.