Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members want to give themselves about a 34 percent pay increase in next fiscal year’s budget.
In addition to more mental health professionals for students, security upgrades at schools and a pay increase for teachers, CMS school board Chair Mary McCray said they are also requesting a pay increase for school board members.
“The demands of this role have increased tremendously as the community has grown and the issues we face are much more complex,” McCray said.
Those issues include finding ways to make schools more diversified and dealing with parents’ continued complaints over the student assignment plan, which kicks in next school year.
Currently, school board members receive about $19,000 in pay plus expenses. McCray receives more than $25,000 plus expenses as board chair.
CMS school board members make more than Wake County school board members, who receive a compensation of about $17,000 plus expenses. If the pay increase is approved, board members would get almost $27,000 and the board chair would receive more than $32,000.
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In making a case for the pay raise, McCray compared their salaries to those of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners, who receive just under $44,000 dollars a year.
“Comparing the scope of responsibility, time spent by members for board business -- and with an employee base of $19,000 , which is larger than the county’s -- and the critical nature of the work of guiding public education," McCray said, "This increase is justified and needed."
Mecklenburg County Commissioner George Dunlap said he does not think it is fair to compare a school board member’s salary with that of a county commissioner.
“What they do is very different and the responsibility is different,” Dunlap said. “While they are responsible for a school district of 140,000, Mecklenburg County is responsible for seven municipalities, so there’s a big difference. If you look across the country, there is a big disparity in terms of pay between the two. I don’t know if that’s a fair comparison.”
Nationwide, many school districts -- such as those in Chicago, New York and Texas -- do not pay school board members.
McCray said in addition to fairly compensating school board members, the pay bump would make it possible for low-income people to serve on the board.
“We talk about equity in this community and it’s important that families, parents and students see people in leadership on this board that reflect the diversity in our community, including economically,” McCray said.
County commissioners have the final say over how much money the district receives, but Dunlap said CMS officials will determine how that money is spent and would be the ones to ultimately approve a raise for board members.