A proposal to pay Janesville School Board members will face a vote in July.
On Tuesday, the board reviewed a draft of the proposal, which calls for board members to be paid $200 monthly—a total of $2,400 annually. The plan calls for the board president to be paid $250 a month or $3,000 annually.
None of the current board members are eligible for the stipends. If approved, the stipends would take effect in July 2020 for board members elected in April.
Board members could refuse compensation without affecting their taxes.
About 95% of Wisconsin school districts pay school board members an annual salary, a meeting stipend or both. Janesville School Board members are not paid.
In December, board members Karl Dommershausen and Dale Thompson proposed that the board consider paying its members. They argued that more people—and different types of people—might run for board seats if they were compensated.
Dommershausen said it costs him money when he has to take off work for a meeting.
Board member Cathy Myers said Tuesday that her research showed that paying members doesn’t necessarily encourage more types of people to seek school board seats.
“What I heard from a lot of districts is that they pay people because ‘the work was important,’” Myers said.
Another person told Myers she “would never have run for the board because of it (money), but it did help.”
Depending on their position on the board, members spend five to 10 hours a week on board business.
Board member Michelle Haworth, who has opposed the plan from the beginning, said the pay issue stemmed from a desire to get a more diverse demographic to run for school board. The research does not support that, she said.
Haworth pointed out that she has three children in school, and that has not affected her ability to serve.
The board has nine members, which would cost the district $22,200 in stipends. Not all members would accept the compensation, and some money could be donated to back to a district department or program.
Haworth encouraged board members to think about “how far that money could go.”
The board will see a final draft proposal at its July 9 meeting.