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More Ridge-Pitt educators top $100,000

The number of educators in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district earning more than $100,000 rose to 55 from 46 in the past year.

Superintendent Jan Unwin topped the list with a total remuneration of $185,000, including expenses. Last year her salary was $175,000 (figures rounded to the nearest $1,000), which placed her 13th among school district employees in the province.

Next, district principal Hardeep Dhillon was paid $131,000, which was $6,000 less than the previous year.

Director of instruction (K-12) David Vandergugten’s reimbursement rose slightly to $137,000 from $136,000.

Deputy superintendent Laurie Meston went to $147,000 from $132,000.

Director of instruction (secondary and adult) Stewart Sonne received $132,000 in each of the past two years.

Mike Murray, chairman of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Board of Education, said the district is no different than others in the province.

“Contracts are determined by the standards in our industry,” he said. “Our district would be no different than any other.”

He said the board’s “succession planning” is aimed at ensuring the district is able to attract and retain qualified staff.

He said school district administrator salaries are generally less than their counterparts in municipal government or other sectors, such as health.

“We’re in line with public and private sector salaries,” Murray said.

Maple Ridge Teachers Association president George Serra was not critical of the administration salaries.

“Our school district, unlike some I hear about, has been good about being less top heavy,” he said. “From our perspective, a really good administrator is worth their weight in gold.”

The schedule of remuneration is a public document that lists all employees whose remuneration exceeds $75,000. It shows the board paid $94 million in remuneration, and another $569,000 in expenses.

Of that $94 million, $53 million was for employees who earn less than $75,000.

Serra said the board faces higher-than-expected salaries because the level of retirement has dropped – he guesses because of the financial climate.

“With economic times the way they are, people are reluctant to retire.”

Elected officials earned a combined $138,000, with $15,000 in expenses. The top paid trustees were Susan Carr, Ken Clarkson, David Rempel and Eleanor Palis at approximately $20,000 each.

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