Saturday, June 04, 2011

San Diego County Office of Education board votes itself a raise

Susan Hartley says she's practically a volunteer. Hmmm. See how her former fellow-SDCOE board member Bob Watkins defined volunteerism.
See all SDCOE posts.

County ed board votes itself a raise
The 5 percent increase comes amid cuts across the state
By Jeff McDonald and Hailey Persinger
May 31, 2011

John Witt:
Sharon Jones:
Mark Anderson:
Susan Hartley:

Jerry Rindone:

Members of the county Board of Education have voted themselves a raise.

On July 1, the five school board members will start receiving the 5 percent increase, boosting their monthly compensation by $22.05 each, to just over $463.

The pay hike, approved on a 4-1 vote at the regular May meeting of the Board of Education, will cost about $1,300 a year.

Still, board president Susan Hartley said she knew some members of the public might criticize the board’s May 11 action. She said the job takes 25 to 30 hours a month, and the pay remains modest.

“We have a lot of expenses as trustees and we are one of the lowest paid public officials in the state,” she said. “We only have the opportunity to (consider raises) once a year by law and it’s only 5 percent, so we figured with the expenses incurred we should take advantage.”

County school board members oversee a budget of more than $550 million. Most of that revenue comes from state and federal government programs that the office passes along to smaller districts.

The county schools office is not immune to the budget dilemma confronting public educators up and down California. The 2011-12 budget plan eliminates seven support staff positions and one management job.

The state Education Code allows county boards of education to set the salaries it pays to elected members. The same law provides a yearly review and a maximum upward adjustment of 5 percent.

The board also raised its salary by 5 percent in July 2010.

Taxpayer advocate Richard Rider said school-board members should know better than to award themselves a bump in salary when districts are facing unprecedented cuts.

“It’s just astonishing,” he said. “Obviously it’s not the dollars, it’s the message: You guys need to cut back, but we want a raise.”

The lone vote against accepting the pay raise was cast by Trustee Jerry Rindone, who said he would not accept the extra $22.05 per month.

“Clearly in these challenging economic times the board of trustees needs to share in the sacrifices,” he said. “This means cutbacks should be from the top to the bottom, including board compensation.”

The state budget will determine how much local schools will have to cut from programs and staffs. The state spending plan is supposed to be adopted by June 15 but lawmakers have missed that deadline for years.

Hartley said being a county schools trustee is close to a volunteer job and no one serves for the compensation.

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