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School trustees vote themselves a raise

At the Tuesday, April 29 board of education meeting, trustees made the "uncomfortable" decision to vote themselves a raise, adjusting their indemnities by around $3,000 more a year. The annual pay will be $21,485 for trustees, $22,485 for vice chair and $23,485 for chair.

Currently, trustees make $18,110, vice-chair, $19,110 and chair $20,110.  Langley trustees are the lowest-paid among all neighbouring districts.

In Abbotsford, trustees are paid $22,000, in Maple Ridge, $19,303.

The cost for the pay bump will be an additional $23,000 more per year from the budget.

Trustee Candy Ashdown was the only one opposed to a pay increase.

"I didn't run for the money. It will come out of our classrooms," she said.

Trustee Alison McVeigh told Ashdown there will never be a good time to take a raise.

"I've served for 15 years. There will always, always be budget challenges."

Trustee Rod Ross made a motion asking that the raise be effective immediately rather than "making the difficult decision for the next elected board."

"We took a pay cut in the financial meltdown so let's get the raise now," Ross said.

His motion found no support, with other trustees saying the budget for this year has already been allocated. He then asked that the pay increase start July 1, which is when the new budget is looked at.

"That way we are responsible for our own raise," said Ross. That motion was passed, with the current board seeing their indemnity rise effective July 1. Staff had proposed that the raise not begin until Dec. 1.

The board's indemnity rates were raised every year from 2006 to 2009 when trustees voted to reverse the 2009 raise because the district was carrying an unexpected $13 million deficit. In 2010, trustees reversed their pay from $19,346 back down to 2009 levels of $18,110.

The deficit is now paid off so it was time to review pay scales again, said David Green, secretary treasurer.

The board could be off the hook in having to vote themselves a raise come next year. The process for determining the trustee indemnity will be a public one, guided by three members of the public who will form a committee. A notice of motion came to the board to change the policy and create a committee.

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