In an unusual move, Vernon School District trustees have given first, second and third reading to approve a capital bylaw which allows the district to proceed with the replacement of five school buses.
“I would not normally present something for first, second and third reading, but if we can get our order for buses in quickly, we’ll be the first to get it back,” said secretary-treasurer Lewis Hill.
Each year, the district is required to prepare and submit an annual capital plan to the Ministry of Education for the replacement of school buses.
The funding criteria of the ministry is bus age greater than 12 years and more than 325,000 kilometres. This year’s request is for five buses, including two that are wheelchair-equipped.
“The bus order needs to be submitted in order that we will get our buses in a timely manner, especially the wheelchair-equipped buses,” said Hill. “The ministry has included the request for a larger bus that have wheelchair lifts.”
The board gave unanimous consent to the bylaw in the amount of $525,578.
Trustees have once again deferred an increase to the salary they receive for carrying out their duties.
Because the B.C. Consumer Price Index has shown a decrease in the cost of living, trustees have decided to not take an increase in the amount of money they receive for sitting on the board.
“Some of you will have worked the whole term without getting a raise, but it is consistent with our policies and is based on the index,” said board chairperson Bill Turanski.
One third of the trustee indemnity is for expenses incurred while carrying out official duties.
Trustee Mitzi Fortin said at the recent meeting of the B.C. School Trustees’ Association, she brought up the fact that Vernon trustees never take an increase in wage.
“They all feel we are doing a disservice to the position because we take time from our jobs without being compensated,” she said.
Trustees’ annual indemnity is $13,600 for board chairperson, which includes $3,000 for expenses such as gas; $12,100 for vice-chairperson Kelly Smith, which includes $1,500 for expenses; and $10,600 for each of the five trustees.
In addition to monthly board meetings, trustees are required to attend numerous committee meetings, PAC meetings and make regular school visits and attend school functions.