Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education backs off pay raise

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 29, 2013

UPDATE: The school board agreed Monday night, after meeting in closed session, to ask county commissioners for a pay increase after all.
Board member Josh Wagner said this morning that he, Susan Cox and Chuck Hughes voted against the raise in a 4-3 decision. Wagner said the issue was not discussed in closed session but was brought up again during open session at the end of the meeting.

EAST SPENCER — Members of the new Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education say they don’t want the pay raise that was approved by their predecessors.
The school board chose to take no action on the increase at Monday’s meeting.
During a meeting in November, the previous board voted 5-0 to increase the annual stipend for school board members, adding $10,800 per year in the district’s expenses.
Since then, board members found out that state statute requires county commissioners’ approval, said Chairman Richard Miller at Monday’s meeting.
Miller, who was on the board at the time of the November meeting but did not attend, said he doesn’t think making that request would be unreasonable.
“I ask that each of you consider how elected bodies in this county are treated,” Miller said. “When you compare budgets and the number of employees, there’s a great disparity.”
The annual stipend for regular board members would increase from $2,400 to $3,600, which equates to $100 more per month.
The chairman would earn $4,800, up from $3,600, while the vice chair would make $4,200, an increase from $2,400.
The three board members who serve on the appeals committee would also receive an additional $50 per month, a total of $600 annually.
L.A. Overcash said he considers travel and work related to his board membership as volunteer time.
New members Josh Wagner and Susan Cox both said they’d rather not ask for the increase, given the recent economy and budget struggles, even though it’s not much money.
Chuck Hughes, also a new member, agreed.
“That amount won’t make a lot of difference to us, but it will make a difference to the county, I think, when we have to make decisions on the budget,” Hughes said.
Jean Kennedy, who abstained from voting at the November meeting, said she doesn’t like the fact that the appeals committee would earn more than other members.
“All of us are on committees,” she said.
Kennedy said she thinks she’s duly compensated for her time, and she doesn’t think the board members should vote to pay themselves.
Vice Chairman Kay Wright Norman replied that no one else is going to do it for them.
“I feel if you don’t recognize the value of what you do, it’s easy for me to understand how we can be underappreciated and undervalued by other citizens in the community,” Norman said.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.