Two Janesville School Board members want the board to consider paying its members.
Their argument: A small stipend might encourage more people to run for office and, in the long run, help create a more diverse board.
On Monday, the board’s policy, personnel and curriculum committee voted to ask the full board to study the issue of paying board members.
The vote was 4-1 with Cathy Myers, Dale Thompson, Karl Dommershausen and Kathy Hurda voting “yes” and Michelle Haworth voting “no.”
The idea came from Dommershausen and Thompson.
“We’re concerned about the low number of people running for school board,” Thompson said. “Would there be value in getting more young people, more low-income people, more diverse individuals on the board? Would a board stipend help with that? We don’t know.”
Dommershausen said he has talked to people who want to serve but can’t afford it. People who work nights would lose income if they were on the school board. People with young children might have to hire baby sitters, he said.
Dommershausen estimated that about “95 percent” of school boards in the state provide a stipend. The state has 421 school districts. Janesville is one of 19 that do not compensate board members.
Elsewhere, compensation ranges from $440 a year in the Albany School District to $18,667 a year in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Clinton Community Schools pays $800 per year; Brodhead, $1,050; Delavan-Darien, $1,500, and Milton, $2,000.
In the Whitewater School District, board members get $15 per meeting. In Edgerton, they earn $300 annually and $40 per meeting. Parkview School Board members receive $55 per meeting.
In most cases, board officers such as the president, vice president, secretary and treasurer receive more money.
Dommershausen offered information on compensation in 12 school districts of similar size, including Appleton, Eau Claire, Green Bay and Kenosha. The average stipend in those districts is $3,170 per year.
“I know it’s always been this way in Janesville,” he said.
Haworth said she opposed accepting money for her board service. Myers said she was uncomfortable voting for her own salary.
Dommershausen stressed that the stipend could be set up so board members could decline it if they wished.
Thompson said he was only asking the school board to study the idea.