Public school board trustees will be getting a small raise in their base pay for the first time in more than a decade.
Trustees voted to approve the hike at Wednesday’s Simcoe County District School Board meeting.
The base honorarium for trustees has been frozen at $5,900 since 2006. That will increase to $6,300 for the next term of trustees. They also get a certain amount based on student enrolment, which will bring the overall honorarium to about $13,500.
They’ll be taking a bit of a hit at the the same time. One-third of the honorarium used to be tax-exempt. That exemption will no longer be in place.
Trustees interviewed after Wednesday’s meeting said money was never a factor in their decision to run for election, but added the increase isn’t necessarily reflective of the work they do.
“Every other part of (the school board) has had increases. Trustees haven’t,” said Peter Beacock, board chair and trustee for Oro-Medonte and Springwater.
Municipal council members, he noted, receive much more pay and often are responsible for smaller areas.
“Geographically, it’s pretty big,” Beacock said. “While you shouldn’t be doing it for the money, it should be about equal to what a councillor makes.”
Jodi Lloyd, trustee for Orillia and Ramara, shared a similar sentiment.
“My motivation to do the job has never been about money. If that’s what your driver is, you’re doing it for the wrong reason. That said, for the amount of work, the compensation isn’t fair,” she said.
Trustees can put in anywhere from 20 to 50 hours a week, depending on how many meetings and activities they attend. More hours are often put during a process like an accommodation review, which are contentious as they often result in school closures or significant changes.
“I don’t do this for the money. I do it for the kids,” said Michele Locke, trustee for Midland, Severn and Tay, “but it shouldn’t cost us money to be a trustee.”
She said the increase approved Wednesday night is “a token amount” for “a huge commitment.”
Those who will benefit from the increase will be elected during the municipal vote in October.