SOFI reveals top salaries in School District 43

Trustee pay defended as equal pay for equal work with Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam councillors

School District 43 trustees deserve pay that is the average of what city councillors get even if it means their remuneration is the highest of any school trustee in B.C., says the chair of the board of education.

“We see ourselves as being equal at the table to our municipal counterparts,” said Kerry Palmer Isaak, an Anmore/Belcarra trustee. “We’re on the same ballot.”

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And with a workload she claims is equivalent, Palmer Isaak said the current SD43 policy that adjusts trustees’ pay each January to the average of the stipends paid councillors in Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam — but not in much lower paid Anmore and Belcarra — is reasonable.

Trustee pay hasn’t been a public issue since the 2014 election, when it was raised as a campaign topic and school board finances were a concern. And after a pay increase in 2016, trustees make $42,535 as a base rate (10% more for chair and 5% more for vice-chair), according to the most recent financial information.

They also make $9,000 more than Surrey trustees, who earn $33,400 as a base and are responsible for more than twice as many students; Vancouver trustees make $15,000 less a year than School District 43 trustees even though they are also responsible for a much larger school district.

The salary figures were contained in the 2016/’17 statement of financial information (SOFI) for SD43, which also outlines the district’s finances and shows which staff made more than $75,000.

SOFI shows that there more people than last year making more than $100,000 annually working for the school district — 164 in 2016/’17 compared to 131 in ’15/’16 — with remuneration for employees making more than $75,000 totalling $110.8 million compared to $106.5 million for those making less than $75,000.

Total pay for elected officials was $389,202.67, with $52,336.10 in expenses, but of that, $32,000 was for a trip to China for four trustees, which was paid for by the Chinese government through its cultural and education arm Hanban.

Top SD43 wage earners at the board office include:

• superintendent Patricia Gartland — $215,746.07;

• assistant superintendent Carey Chute — $158,467.77;

• assistant superintendent Reno Ciolfi — $158,467.76;

• secretary treasurer Chris Nicolls — $155,065.08;

• assistant superintendent Rob Zambrano — $149,371.21;

• and assistant superintendent Gerald Shong — $149,743.51.

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