The Post and Courier newspaper ran a front-page story Sunday about the Horry County School Board voting itself a pay raise of $6400 per year, making it the state’s highest paid school board at $16,000 per year. The news report didn’t mention that the pay raise accounted for only 0.016% of the Horry County School District’s annual $460 Million budget. The story quoted parents who intimated that school board members are so highly paid that their children can’t get new band uniforms or adequately pay school district employees.
The news report listed the ten highest paid school boards pay in the state. It noted that Charleston County School Board members receive only $25 per meeting, a rate which has been frozen since 1970. The school board members oversee a projected $470 Million operating budget and a $500 Million capital projects fund. Most of them spend more than 20 hours per week attending meetings, visiting schools, corresponding with voters and doing research. Pay for nearby Dorchester School District Two and Berkeley County school board members is $6000 per year.
The members of Charleston County Council receive about $21,000 per year and manage a budget of about half the amount as the school board. School board members have the added burden of needing to campaign county-wide to get elected, which is both expensive and time-consuming. The nine County Council members campaign in much smaller individual geographic districts.
I believe that the scope and responsibility of the Charleston County School board members are every bit as significant as their counterparts on the County Council. I think their pay rate should be commensurate with County Council and that the nine members should run in the same individual districts that make up County Council. Those changes would expand the pool of those willing to serve on the school board and also forge a stronger bond between school board members and the voters who elected them.