More than 90 percent of Wisconsin’s school districts pay their board members. Pay ranges from $60 a meeting to $18,667 a year in Milwaukee.
The Janesville School District isn’t one of them, but the school board voted 7-2 Tuesday night to study the idea. Michelle Haworth and Jim Millard were the votes against.
Board member Cathy Myers said the study won’t just look at compensation.
Members want to know if the promise of compensation might encourage more and better candidates to run for school board, Myers said. For younger people or single parents, the cost of a baby sitter or lost time at work might make serving on the board an impossibility.
Currently, five of the nine board members are retired.
Board member Karl Dommershausen first raised the prospect of paying board members. Dommershausen said he knows many people who would like to serve on the board but say they can’t afford it. Dommershausen works part time, and when meetings conflict with his scheduled shifts, he loses that money, he said.
At a school board policy, personnel and curriculum committee meeting last month, Dommershausen said he envisioned a system that would allow board members to turn down the compensation.
At the same committee meeting, Myers said she was uncomfortable voting for what would essentially be a pay raise. That’s a concern other members have expressed, as well.
In an interview after Tuesday’s meeting, Millard said he voted no on the study because he planned to vote no if a compensation plan was proposed. He would not vote for a raise for himself.
He said if there was some guarantee that a pay or compensation plan wouldn’t go into effect until after all the current board members’ terms are up, he might consider voting yes.
Board members Steve Huth and Myers are working on the study and expect it to take at least six weeks.