The Limestone District School Board (LDSB) board of trustees has written a letter to the Ministry of Education requesting, on behalf of its executive staff, an increase to salaries.
The letter focuses on concerns regarding the impact of the decade-long freeze on executive compensation.
For the LDSB, the letter states that this has resulted in one superintendent having a higher salary than the other four superintendents, one of whom has been in the role just as long.
“Given executive school board leaders are by far the smallest group in the education sector, the argument of fiscal restraint becomes more problematic with each passing year when all other labour groups receive modest increases,” the letter reads.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) says some support staff at the LDSB, including education assistants, early childhood educators, custodians and school secretaries, were surprised by the board’s call for change specifically to executive compensation.
The LDSB’s local CUPE 1480 president Erin Provost says the average CUPE worker’s salary is $39,000.
“Over the past 10 years, increase to education workers wages has been eight per cent while inflation in Ontario has been at least 19,” says Provost. “At the moment our wages are about 11 per cent behind what they were 10 years ago.”
This salary is in comparison with executive staff whose positions regularly appear on the province’s Sunshine List.
“Some of our members have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet, and I can pretty much guarantee that no director or superintendent of the board has had to take on a second job or access social programs like food banks or clothing drives just to support their families,” Provost says.
The letter from LDSB trustees to the province goes on to ask for the same sector increases provided to union and non-union labour groups.
The trustees warn that “failure to do so will hamper recruitment and retention efforts across the province, and only continue to burgeon as an issue requiring attention.”
“I would hope that the trustees would see the value of everybody and the work that everybody does, and would have addressed the minister in speaking to wages that affect all of the working groups and not just the small group of senior executives,” says Provost.
The letter also references the difficulties senior administrative teams have faced during COVID-19 over the past two years.
The board says skilled senior leadership will be needed in schools boards as navigating the pandemic continues.
”Given staffing shortages and the supply of potential employees, Trustees are concerned about salaries across the education sector,” says Suzanne Ruttan, Chair of the Limestone District School Board.
“This does create recruitment and retention challenges among multiple groups of employees. All salaries are determined through provincial negotiations, not negotiations at the local school board level.”