How much do trustees get paid?

On tonight’s public board meeting agenda is trustee remuneration. Like all other politicians in Canada, the trustees vote on their own salary despite the pecuniary interest. Due to this difficult budget, the trustee remuneration committee has proposed a freeze on their honoraria, but have recommended to add a few extra items.

The first is that they will now each be reimbursed up to $50/month or $600/year for communications cost (cell phone costs was the example given).

Next is that each will be provided with a reserved underground heated parking stall at the new administration building (I don’t know how much Beltline parking spaces go for, but let’s make a low guess of $250/month or $3000/year).

They will now each have their own office at the Dr. Carl Safran Centre despite the report stating that they are only expected to work on-site on meeting days, which are typically Tuesday and Wednesdays (although if they are in meetings, then they are not in their offices, but their cars are in the parkade). According to a January Herald article some of these offices (of which there are ten, despite only having seven trustees) are up to 200 sq. ft., so let’s make another low guess of 150 sq. ft. with Beltine newly constructed office space leasing for $23/sq. ft. or $3,450.

Finally, they will also be loaned laptop computers, and as most CBE employees seem to be using MacBook Pros, I’ll take the cheapest price of $1249 and divide it by 3 years for $416. So, although they will not be getting a salary increase, they will be getting additional benefits to a very conservative estimate of $7,466 that most other trustees in the province do not receive.

Now, let’s compare how much our trustees receive compared with the Calgary Separate School District and the Edmonton Public School Board. As this school year is not complete, we must look at the numbers from the 2009-2010 audited financial statements found on the Alberta Education website, which is what the committee also referred to in its report.

The total remuneration for the Calgary Separate School District was $277,132 or $39,590/trustee.

The Edmonton Public School Board was $419,228 or $46,581/trustee (they have nine trustees on their board).

The total for CBE trustees was $422,082 or $60,297/trustee. The report stated that since the CBE was 25% larger than the second largest Metro board, that some increase in this item was not out of line.

The basis of their report is that the position of Trustee is similar to that of City of Calgary Alderman, except that it is half-time. Therefore the intent of their policy is to ensure that Trustee remuneration is approximately half that of aldermen at a cost to the CBE that is commensurate with that of the other Alberta metro school boards. Because the city is reviewing Aldermen remuneration, this report only recommends the freeze until after the City of Calgary reports in the Fall of 2011 at which time consideration might be given to asking the Trustee Remuneration Committee to reconvene.

The committee was comprised of Trustees Lane and Cochrane, Eryn Kelly (Calgary Association of Parents and School Councils or CAPSC representative), Eric Miller (corporate representative), Wendeline Fraser and Marina Munro (stakeholder representatives) who were appointed by the board of trustees. Also of note is that CAPSC receives the majority of its funding from the board of trustees, yet this is not considered a conflict of interest either.

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