School Board Gets Behind Measure To Form Panel Reviewing Its Salaries

Delegate from Montgomery County plans to introduce bill during 2018 session


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Montgomery County school board members are standing behind a proposal to create a new process for setting their salaries.

State Del. Eric Luedtke is planning on introducing legislation to form a compensation commission that would study board members’ pay every four years. The education officials on Tuesday said the resulting salary adjustments could open up the office to a wider array of people in the county. Most adult members now receive $25,000 per year, with the board president earning $29,000.

“The only way we can expand the board with more diverse voices is to have more equitable pay,” board member Shebra Evans said.

The job’s responsibilities are burdensome for someone who has outside employment, and most people can’t afford to live off the school board salary, she added.

In addition to crafting salary recommendations, the commission also would be responsible for considering the $5,000 scholarship that a student board member is awarded for his or her service.

The school board Tuesday voted unanimously to support Luedtke’s bill when he brings it before the Maryland General Assembly during the 2018 session.

Luedtke (D-Burtonsville), a former county school teacher, has called his idea a “good government” proposal because it would create a system for evaluating board salaries. Currently, the state Legislature gives board members raises when they decide it’s appropriate, he explained.

His proposal calls for the five-person compensation commission to consider the school board’s workload, responsibilities, necessary education and skills, as well as salaries of peers in comparable jurisdictions.

Montgomery County’s school board is the highest-paid in the state, but officials on Tuesday noted that it is also the largest.

While the position is considered part-time, board President Michael Durso said he and his colleagues often work more than 20 hours a week and sometimes more than 30. 

Under Luedtke’s bill, the county executive would nominate members of the compensation commission, and the council would confirm them. The commission’s salary recommendation would have to be approved by the state Legislature.

The school board has also weighed in on other topics that will likely come up during the upcoming state legislative session.

Late last month, it approved a platform that advocates for resources to help the district cope with enrollment growth and capacity needs. The board is also advocating for creation of suicide awareness, prevention and intervention models and funding for substance abuse prevention programs.

The legislative platform calls for more state aid for expanding training on restorative justice and addressing the disproportionate levels of suspension of black and Hispanic students and students who receive special education services.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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