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Langley school trustees vote themselves 18% raise despite deficit

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

"They’re not lobbying for additional funds, they know they’re in deficit and they still passed a motion to give themselves a raise."

— Gail Chaddock-Costello

The Langley Teachers’ Association is furious after the district’s school trustees voted themselves an 18% raise on Tuesday, even as the district faces a multi-million-dollar shortfall.

According to school board vice-chairman Rob McFarlane, it would be the first time Langley trustees have had a pay increase since 2008 — the board froze trustee remuneration until now due to the financial turmoil of the time.

LTA president Gail Chaddock-Costello said only five of seven trustees were present for the vote that passed 4-1.

“(They said) this is an election year, if you want to have the best and brightest running then you have to have something on the table that attracts people to this job,” she said.

“That argument can be made for anybody, including teachers at the bargaining table.”

Chaddock-Costello said the board should be advocating for more funding from the provincial Ministry of Education instead of giving themselves raises.

The increase boosts trustees’ pay to $21,485 from $18,110. It takes effect July 1, which means current trustees would make about $1,000 more this year.

The board chair and vice-chair make slightly more.

“It would be politically expedient, I suppose, to do it after the election,” McFarlane said.

“I think it’s more appropriate to do it at this point in time. We’re upfront and honest, we’re not hiding it from anybody.”

He said he is opposed to trustees setting their own wages in principle, and voted to have the raise implemented after the election instead of before.

“However, that’s not the system. In my mind the closest thing to having someone else deal with that issue would be to make it effective at the next board’s term.”

The current district shortfall is approximately $3 million, according to McFarlane. Chaddock-Costello said it could be reduced to $2 million if the district cuts its technology capital expenditures.

Trustee Candy Ashdown, who voted against the raise, said it would be more appropriate to do an “incremental” raise when finances are stable, rather than 18% all at once.

“When we can’t give our staff, our teachers and our staff those types of increases I don’t think it’s appropriate for us,” she said.



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