Pay for school district employees rises 4.4%

Increase brings school district's total payroll to $117.6 million.

Superintendent Kevin Godden was the highest-paid employee of the Abbotsford School District in 2014-15.

Superintendent Kevin Godden was the highest-paid employee of the Abbotsford School District in 2014-15.

The Abbotsford school district paid its employees nearly $5 million more in 2014-15 than the previous fiscal year.

The district’s Statement of Financial Information (SOFI) released this week shows the total cost for remuneration for teachers, administrators and support staff increased 4.4 per cent over the previous year, from $112.7 million in 2014 to $117.6 million in 2015.

Those employees also claimed $1.17 million in expenses in 2014-15, up 6.9 per cent from the previous year.

Ray Velestuk, the district’s secretary-treasurer, said the increase in employee pay stems from negotiated collective agreements along with increases related to substitute employees and the 2014 teacher strike.

Total pay for all school trustees went up slightly, from $164,011 in 2013/14 to $165,919 in 2014/15. Cindy Schafer, who served as board of education chair, made the most, at $27,960. Two new trustees were elected to the board during the 2014 municipal elections midway through the fiscal year.

Expenses for the board rose from the previous year, from $23,571 to $36,903. The increase largely reflected low board expenses in 2013/14 attributed, in part, to ongoing teacher action. The previous year, 2012/13, saw the board incur expenses of $36,392. Expenses include the cost to participate in conferences, meetings, and other school-district-related activities.

Schafer recorded the highest expenses, at $8,304.

According to the SOFI, the number of school district employees making more than $75,000 rose from 470 in 2013/14 to 525 in the last school year. A total of 75 now make more than $100,000, up from 68 the previous year.

The best compensated school district employee is superintendent Kevin Godden, who took home a salary of $199,828 in 2014/15. He also recorded $16,735 in expenses.

Secretary-treasurer Ray Velestuk earned the second-highest amount: $154,608, with $15,391 in expenses. Assistant superintendent Angus MacKay had the next highest salary at $134,226. He had $5,224 in expenses.

A report released earlier this month by the C.D. Howe Institute found teachers in British Columbia received the lowest pay in Canada compared to other similar wage earners in the province, although those figures were for 2013/14, prior to the negotiation of a new contract.

That contract provided for a raise of 7.25 per cent spread over six years, along with increases to benefits. The province also boasts the best standardized testing results in the country, the study said.