Surrey school trustees to consider wage change

Surrey school trustees to consider wage change

SURREY — Surrey school trustees have put on hold a motion to revisit how their pay is calculated each year, at least until the district’s budget is dealt with.

While the item was on last week’s school board agenda, the trustees voted to defer the item until later in the year.

“We felt that things like that are tough to deal with so we figured we’ll wait until the budget is all settled,” said board chair Shawn Wilson.

Typically, trustee pay is calculated annually based on the Consumer Price Index in Vancouver. Last year that adjustment saw trustee pay go up by $600, while the year prior it went down $200.

Now, Wilson said the board would be looking at if there were any other ways to calculate it, such as using other districts as benchmarks, or basing it on number of students in the district.

Asked if there was any discontent among trustees regarding remuneration, Wilson said there weren’t any complaints as far as he was aware.

“I wouldn’t say there are too many complaints, but it’s always a sensitive topic,” he said. “We don’t really talk about it too much.”

Rather, Wilson said the move would be simply to see if there were other ways to look at Surrey in comparison to other similarly sized districts, perhaps like Vancouver or Coquitlam.

“There’s always a view to look at it where other school districts are but this certainly wouldn’t be anything that you’d classify as significant,” he said. “It’s more what are you willing to give your time and effort for and how much are you willing to take in return? It’s not like a trustee’s pay is what you’d live on.”

In Surrey, which has more than 70,000 students, trustees are paid $30,800 while Wilson receives $33,800 as board chair.

By comparison, the Coquitlam school district has less than half the number of students Surrey does at around 30,000 and nine trustees. In that district, base trustee pay is $38,449, with the board chair and vice chair receiving $42,294 and $40,372 respectively.

Similarly, Vancouver also has nine trustees serving around 54,000 students. For those trustees, base pay is $25,538, with the board chair receiving $27,671.