EDITORIAL: Trustees’ decision off the mark

whether it’s called an indemnity, salary, wage or stipend, the reality is that school trustees are paid to do a job

Obviously some Vernon School District trustees are not worried about perception.

At the same time that the district is facing an $800,000 shortfall over two years, a majority of trustees decided to hike their indemnity.

Granted, the change — $13,424 to $14,958 for trustees and $14,552 to $17,707 for chairperson — is peanuts in a multi-million-dollar budget but it could have meant extra supplies in the classroom.

The other concern is that trustees are getting something others are not.

“We do have employee groups who still have not had a raise in many years,” said chairperson Kelly Smith, who opposed the motion to hike the indemnity.

Beyond that, it’s important to remember that the school district’s funding comes from taxpayers and there are many residents who have had their wages frozen since the 2008 recession or have lost their jobs. Their ability to absorb more taxes is extremely limited.

In pushing for the increase, trustee Robert Lee kept insisting that what board members receive is not a salary.

However, whether it’s called an indemnity, salary, wage or stipend,   the reality is that Lee and other trustees are paid to do a job. There is an expectation from residents that the duties of trustees will be fulfilled during the term, so yes the term salary can be used to describe what trustees receive.

Those running for office last November knew exactly what the compensation would be and that serving as a trustee would impact their personal lives and careers.

Some proponents of an increase stated that they are just following an annual process of comparing Vernon with other districts.

And while that may be the case, the process doesn’t dictate that a higher indemnity has to be approved. Trustees have the ability to say no.