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Victoria school board trustees reject 10 per cent pay increase

Jan 17 2012

Greater Victoria school trustees rejected a 10 per cent hike in their own pay Monday.

A previous board passed a motion in 2005 to review trustees' pay automatically every three years and compare it with salaries in five other similar districts.

Based on that formula, trustees' annual pay was slated to jump to $19,270 from $17,424, a board report says.

But vice-chairwoman Bev Horsman called on the board to refuse any pay raise for the 2011-2012 school year. The motion received widespread support from the other eight trustees.

Horsman said in an interview earlier Monday that it's only fair that trustees reject an increase when public-sector unions, including teachers, are being told to accept a wage freeze.

Horsman said the pay issue will come forward again a year from now.

The issue was just one in a series of controversial debates slated for Monday, the first full meeting of he board since three new trustees — Deborah Nohr, Diane McNally and Edith Loring-Kuhanga — were sworn in last December.

The trio, who have all worked as teachers, ran campaigns last fall promising to shake up the board, and each was endorsed by the Greater Victoria Teachers' Association. They had a number of motions on the agenda.

Nohr wanted the board to set three dates to resume local bargaining with the GVTA. Loring-Kuhanga was slated to move that the board write government and urge an end to the B.C. government's net-zero mandate for teachers. The mandate means that teachers can negotiate a pay raise only if they find savings elsewhere in their contract.

At the urging of the GVTA, McNally planned to call for the board to send a letter to parents advising them of the right to pull their children out of Foundational Skills Assessments. The tests, which begin today and run to Feb. 24, are administered to all Grade 4 and 7 students in the province to assess their skills and knowledge in reading, writing and math.

McNally proposed a letter that would make it clear that, while students are expected to participate in the tests, the board respects the rights of parents and students to decide whether it is in their best interests.

The teachers' association opposes mass FSA testing, believing the results are misused by the Fraser Institute to rank schools and undermine confidence in the public school system. The union says it believes in assessing students and school performance, but favours random, anonymous sampling.

lkines@timescolonist.com