Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
OPINION: Too much, too soon
Publication:
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 4 Oct 2006, p. 6


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We don't envy the position Halton District School Board trustees will find themselves in tonight. These elected officials face recommendations to increase trustee honorariums by an eye-popping 163 per cent starting Dec. 1; give each current trustee one year's retroactive pay of $8,153; and pay current trustees an additional $1,882 for the three-month period ending Nov. 30. The recommendations come from a citizens' advisory committee that was convened to re-visit trustee remuneration after the Ministry of Education decided to allow trustee raises for the first time in a decade. Now, less than six weeks before a municipal election, these elected officials are facing a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don't proposition. If they approve an increase of the base trustee stipend from $5,000 to $13,159 and/or approve the other two recommendations-- effectively paying themselves an additional $10,000 each for the period of Sept. 1, 2005 to Nov. 30, 2006-- there could be political hell to pay from anyone who believes education spending belongs in the classroom. If trustees don't pass the recommendations, they come off as heroes to ratepayers' groups, but find themselves stuck with the same pay trustees earned back in 1997. Further complicating matters is a ministry-imposed deadline of Oct. 31 for school boards to approve new pay scales. This leaves Halton's public school trustees squirming over establishing a pay raise within weeks of re-election bids. It is important to note that this is a board that has frequently cried poor and serenaded the Ministry of Education with the underfunded blues. It doesn't matter if trustee raises come directly out of the local tax base or from the ministry's coffers. Either way, taxpayers will foot the bill. Board chair Paul Tate is fooling himself if he believes parents and taxpayers won't mind an additional $77,000 a year added to the board's $380-million operating budget. The proposed raises could purchase a significant amount of pencils, paper or textbooks for Halton students. Still, a counter argument can be made that "you get what you pay for." In the last 10 years, the annual stipend for Ontario's school trustees has been a pittance. At $5,000 a year, it's no wonder residents weren't lining up to contest trustee positions in this November's municipal election. While it would be difficult for us to oppose an annual increase to trustees' pay after such a long freeze, a leap of 163 per cent in one year is too much, too soon.


Media Type:
Newspaper
Item Types:
Articles
Clippings
Date of Publication:
4 Oct 2006
Subject(s):
Local identifier:
Halton.News.210989
Language of Item:
English
Copyright Statement:
Copyright status unknown. Responsibility for determining the copyright status and any use rests exclusively with the user.
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OPINION: Too much, too soon