(Shelby County) A committee of Shelby County commissioners passed a recommendation Wednesday to give Shelby County School board members a $20,000 pay raise.
There will be more discussion about the recommendation in the coming days. The full commission will vote on it Monday.
Commissioner Mike Ritz is working to change the school board from 13 to nine members. This would mean six suburbs wouldn’t have representation on the board.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Ritz said the commission needs to show support for the “good school board,” which is why he proposed the pay raise.
Those who support the pay increase say the new smaller school board worked hard to get the new district up and running, and has good community support.
School board members make about $4,200 per year now, while city council members and county commissioners make about $29,100 annually.
Commissioner Steve Mulroy said, “I think you need more than $4,000, which is a nominal sum, to attract quality people and reward them for their work.”
Commissioner Chris Thomas, a former school board member, said the school board just spent more than $5 million in legal fees and cut teachers, and that he can’t support it because school board isn’t asking for it.
Thomas said, “Right now, the teachers deserve more money. The people in the classroom deserve more and our school board members aren’t saying, ‘Hey, we need a raise.'”
Commissioner Henri Brooks said, “You want the best people to make decisions about children and education.”
She then said the school board doesn’t pay enough.
Brooks said if the commission doesn’t raise salaries, you get the “rich fat cats” to run education, because they’re the only ones who can afford to run.
She said, “You don’t want to establish a school board of billionaires who have absolutely no training, expertise, or training and advocacy for education.”
Commissioner Terry Roland threw his hands up and shouted, “If they don’t want the job, don’t run for it!”
Roland went on to say, “How is that helping the kids? What you’re doing is you’re breaking the county.”
“Highway 385 just opened — can you say Piperton? Can you say Lewisburg, because that’s where everybody is going to move to,” he added.
Brooks responded quickly, saying, “Let me see the tail lights!”
That only caused Roland to fire back with: “Well, Commissioner Brooks, you and Commissioner Chism might be the only ones left here.”
Brooks said that if good, qualified candidates can be attracted with more money, then the commission should approve the raise.
Roland then brought up missing money and the state taking over more schools. He also said that if they’re running because of the money, then the county doesn’t need “that kind of person.”
In the end, the committee passed the recommendation.
WREG asked Shelby County School Board Chair Kevin Woods if he was in favor of the such a large increase.
He said the school board didn’t ask for a raise, but questions why all local elected board members aren’t paid the same, whether it’s $4,000 or $30,000.