Saturday, February 14, 2009

Should members of the School Board be paid?

The 9 members of the PPS Board oversee an annual budget of a half billion dollars- larger than the annual budget for the City of Pittsbugh. Meetings are frequent, constituents have questions, and there are stacks of documents to review. Unlike City Council positions, however, School Board member is a volunteer position.

In order to attract the best candidates would it be better to pay School Board members, at least as a half-time position? Some say that with a volunteer system members serve because they care about the schools and children, rather than pay. However, there may be people who care very much about the schools and children but have no time left after working one or more jobs to support themselves and their families. Paying members would also be a real acknowledgment of their value to the school district.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Who would be a "best" candidate, in your opinion? I hope you do not mean to imply that those who work for no pay are lesser candidates for the position! These positions involve a significant commitment in time and effort, and it would be nice to pay them what they are worth. However, I am sure that complaints would quickly erupt when taxes were raised to do so.

Questioner said...

The idea would be that excellent candidates who cannot afford to serve without compensation would then be available. Funding would be from the existing budget, where many have suggested there is significant waste. If Board members were then able to spend more time seeking efficiency this change could more than pay for itself.

Hmm said...

Anonymous: at least in the past, board members have enriched themselves via positions for family members in the district, etc.

That's one of the problems of an unpaid board that does require significant amounts of time and effort. I think that people begin to feel that they are entitled to some sort of compensation for all the grief. Unfortunately, that's usually at the tax-payer's unknowing expense.

Mark Rauterkus said...

IMNSHO, a better option, and to side-step your question, is to insist that school board members NOT be eligible for other ballot positions for elected office -- while on the board and for the next three years after departing the board.

Being a school board member should be a 'terminal position' in that it would be the end of the line, not a stepping stone. Otherwise, the kids get stepped on.

Schools are not places where folks should go to create a power base. Rather, schools are places where knowledge should be the champion's quest.

And, most of all, school board members should be elected.

Really, the question is a bit like the question of Olympians being amateur or not. In the not so distant past, Olympic athletes were not able to be paid to play. They had to be in the game for the noble pursuit. Elite.

Questioner said...

There are pros and cons to the "terminal" policy, but it does sidestep the issue of potential candidates who cannot afford to serve as volunteers, or "Hmm's" concern.

Anonymous said...

Ask us again when the enrollment has doubled.

Anonymous said...

Question:

Did the Superintendent say why he put his house up for sale? Didn't he just sign a new contract?

Questioner said...

This has nothing to do w/ the school board being paid but here's the Tribune link- explaining that the issue is a mortgage pinch.

http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_611123.html

A new 3 yr contract was just signed and the superintendent at that time said that there was a distinct possibility that he would stay for that entire 3 year period (he is free to leave at any time).

Anonymous said...

If Mr.Roosevelt needs help loading the moving van, I know numerous people who would be glad to help, free of charge.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he will take some of the BOE members with him....

Questioner said...

So getting back to payment for school board members...

A $25k/yr per board member stipend would total $225,000. Greater availability to constituents alone could make this amount worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Do board members in the suburbs get paid?

Questioner said...

It seems there is a statute currently that provides for these positions to be volunteer. A really, really old statute from when the system was set up. So most likely no one gets paid, although due to higher family incomes in the suburbs more people may be able to afford to take volunteer positions. And of course suburban systems are much smaller, with much smaller budgets and less complex problems. We would need a change in the statute allowing districts the option of paying board members.

Mark Rauterkus said...

There is some valid thinking in the idea of a smaller district and smaller problems. Agree.

Furthermore, that is why the concept from PA Gov. Ed Rendell to make bigger school districts is foolishness.

Furthermore, I'd love to see school districts and associated school boards that go from K-8 and then another board that goes from 9 to graduation and include 'night school' and 'afterschool' and 'community school.'

The challenges of high school are much unlike those of an elementary school.

Anonymous said...

Mark, you obviously subscribe to the idea of big government even after looking at the monster which is PPS these days--a true example of academic bureaucracy run amok. Now, your dream scenario would be even more people clinging on to the public "teet" down on Bellefield Avenue? Mark, just how many people can we fit into the Ad Building, anyway? Just how many people with no clue about education--about the daily business of educating children--can we stuff into the decision making process???
We already have an administration with absolutely no clue--none--about what goes on in our school's classrooms. Either we have corporate types or failed teachers making decisions based on one thing---data. We are over-testing kids to the point where there is so much data, one cannot get a true grip on how Johnny is learning. To the Roosevelt clan, data makes up for being in the classroom.
Then, we allow third parties to devise curriculum. These people aren't in the classroom, either, but who cares? When our kids don't learn, we'll just blame the teachers, who have absolutely no input in the process.

And you want more people who aren't in the classroom on board in all of this???

What can you be thinking???

Anonymous said...

Parents hear that the executive directors are spending 60% of their time in school buildings, true? Is that classroom time, time meeting with the principal and senior staff or time in a conference room clearing messages and emails? What they should be doing is acting as a substitute teacher, even if only for a few periods. Or they should be the staff member sitting in the hallway handing out detention slips to late arriving students. Or they could slip into coveralls and cruise the halls to see what is happening in our high schools, undercover, or coveralls, I guess.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The following statement might apply to Mark Roosevelt, but nothing could be further from the truth if talking about me, Mark Rauterkus.

"Mark, you obviously subscribe to the idea of big government ..."

I do not agree with Ed Rendell's idea of making bigger school districts.

Anonymous of February 17, 2009 8:25 PM is twisted by heaping that rant onto my positions. Rant as you wish, but don't put your expressions onto my plate as your views are not mine and you don't even come close to what my views are.

Talk for yourself and not on my behalf.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't pay Colazzi to cut my dogs hair. But her son got paid and is still getting paid!

Questioner said...

Whatever your views of particular board members- the idea would be that compensation and acknowledgment of the value of work done would expand the pool of candidates. Voters might also take the choice more seriously if they knew that they as taxpayers would be paying the people they select.