Shelby County School Board members to get $10,000 raise next year

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shelby County School Board members are getting a raise that will go into effect in July, but the pay hike is already raising concerns for some people.

Pay for school board members was set at about $4,000 in 1988, but the Shelby County Commission raised it to $15,000 two years ago.

Since a vote on Monday, the board is set to make $10,000 more.

"Trying to make this the best school system in the nation. That's what we're after," Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey said.

Bailey sponsored the ordinance that now gives the Shelby County School Board more money.

"We thought that is was the right and proper thing to do. That it was appropriate," Bailey told WREG.

He argued the board members deserved to make close to the commissioners' $29,000 a year because of the difficult decisions they make and hard work they do overseeing the school system.

"Fair play and equity. It was the right, proper thing to do," Bailey said.

Keith Williams asked, "Is it equitable, is it fair, or is it desperate treatment?"

Williams, who is the head of the Memphis and Shelby County Education Association, had questions.

"This is not a job. This is not a career, and we should not treat it as such," Williams explained.

He said the extra pay for board members is a cause for concern.

"If it's going to be part-time employment, maybe there needs to be qualifications for the position and certainly some achievable measures," Williams told WREG.

Williams said the board will now make more than some teacher's assistants, and educators have not seen an across-the-board raise in five years.

"That's a huge increase. Teachers have never gotten those kinds or raises. We're getting 3% and 2%," he said.

While Williams said the new school board pay is likely comparable to other districts it's size, he thinks the commission needs to reevaluate the decision.

"I think we need to revisit how we get money, it's purpose, the use of it, and who is really benefiting from it," Williams stated.

"I think overwhelmingly the majority of the people just want a school system. They're not sitting around worried about what the school board members are making. That's political talk," Bailey concluded.

The chairperson of the board will make $1,000 more than the other members.