Decatur School Board considers paying itself

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt May 7, 2014
The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education. Photo obtained from the City Schools of Decatur website.

The City Schools of Decatur Board of Education. Photo obtained from the City Schools of Decatur website.

Members of the Decatur School Board  are considering paying themselves $550 per member for meeting 11 times between January and June.

City Schools of Decatur spokesperson Courtney Burnett said for the last few years Decatur School Board members elected not to receive the stipend because of budget tightening. The board members do not receive a salary for their service, Burnett said.

“When the budget years were bad, they said, ‘Let’s just take this away,'” Burnett said. “We don’t need to be receiving anything if we’re cutting the budget.”

The payments for the five board members would amount to $2,750 total, which is available in the current year’s budget, Superintendent Phyllis Edwards says in a memo attached to the BOE’s May 13 agenda.

Her memo says:

For several years, the Board has not elected to take their stipend due to budget constraints. I am bringing this forward for the Board to make a decision since it has been discussed but not acted on officially.

Since new members have been seated, and the financial climate is better, this item is brought to the Board for consideration.

The Board spends at least one day per month in a meeting that often lasts over three hours. In addition, there are other meetings or work sessions that they must attend as well as reading agenda items, asking and answering questions so that they may do their due diligence.

This item is requested to allow the Board Members to be compensated for 11 sessions since January 2014 through June 2014. These include regular meetings, retreats and work sessions.

The next BOE meeting begins at 6:30 pm on May 13 and will be held at 758 Scott Blvd.

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  • bluesman101

    Wonderful. Word just went out that as from next year, CSD substitute teachers will be limited to three days a week to avoid having to give them benefits under Obamacare.

    As Mel Brooks said, “It’s good to be king.”

    • Stipend yes, but support subs

      That’s especially interesting because I believe that, in addition to a stipend, Board members are also eligible for getting health care insurance through the school system. That’s not a freebie but it definitely saves money for anyone who would otherwise have to buy a more expensive individual vs. much cheaper group plan. Don’t know if any Board members are using that option now but I know at least one has in the past. If that option still exists, perhaps it would be appropriate to end it if it’s not going to be an option for substitute teachers who may easily be working as many official hours a month as Board members do.
      Not bothered by a stipend of $550 per year per Board member given what Board members get in other systems. But I wonder how much the insurance option is worth?
      Also hate to see CSD trying to work around ACA. Yes, it saves money but it undermines the ACA which is meant to be a safety net for folks who are working but cannot afford individual health insurance–some substitute teachers may fall in that category.

      • bluesman101

        “it undermines the ACA which is meant to be a safety net for folks who are working but cannot afford individual health insurance–some substitute teachers may fall in that category.”

        Exactly. I would add that it also affects subs who have health insurance via a spouse and may not intend to seek health insurance via CSD at all.

    • Dex

      Something to this effect was also posted on the Oakhurst listserve. Where did you hear this? What’s the source of that information? First, are substitute teachers limited to three days a week? Second, if so, are they limited to three days a week “to avoid having to give them benefits under Obamacare”? Dan, have you heard anything?

      • bluesman101

        Yes, that was my post. I heard this from a substitute teacher, who told me that all CSD teachers had been told in recent staff meetings that this would be the policy as from August – and yes, it is due to Obamacare.

        Currently CSD teachers have a lot of flexibility in choosing their own substitutes, so the purpose of the announcement was to warn them not to give subs more than three days a week.

        Of course, it would be good to hear form C SD on this directly, and I would be delighted to be corrected if I am mistaken.

  • Eric

    As a taxpayer and parent with children in the schools, I find this completely fair and reasonable. If anything, it’s on the low side. $550 is a pittance relative to the amount of work these folks do. There is nothing wrong with providing a small stipend to these volunteers to help compensate them for expenses (and yes, time) they incur doing the work of the board. It’s common practice. Governance and administration of the schools are a cost of doing business.

    Disclosure: Personally know two of the board members by virtue of neighborhood and school activities. But that has no influence on my opinion that this minimal stipend is appropriate.

  • Jerry

    Nope, nope, nope. Anyone that wants to pay themselves can be bought.
    What are they thinking of?

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