School board unanimously votes for pay raise; public hearing attended by no one

ST. GEORGE – The Washington County School District Board voted Tuesday to increase compensation for board members from $4,440 to $9,000 per year.

After a public hearing that no one from the public attended, the nine-member board discussed the increase at some length before unanimously passing a motion to approve the increase. The compensation package includes health and dental benefits, as it did before the increase, bringing the total compensation per board member to about $14,000 to $24,000 per year.

Board members receive the same health and dental benefits as other school district employees, which is valued at about $5,000 to $15,000 per employee, depending on whether the coverage is for one person, a couple or a family.

Although the increase nearly doubles board members’ base compensation, it is still less than other comparable school districts, board members said, and is 25 percent less than the state average school board compensation for a similarly sized district.

The board has been reluctant to address the issue, but cited increasing demands on board members as the reason compensation has finally been addressed.

Board member David Stirland has only been serving since January, and has mixed emotions about the increase.

“Having served for five months, and seen the significant amount of time that this takes, I think I was undercompensated,” Stirland said. “To raise it, double? I guess my perspective is a little different,” he said, adding that he defers to the judgment of the longer-serving board members and their experience.

“And it may be noted that we are below the average for a district this size,” Stirland said, “and I’m comfortable with that.”

Up until about 10 years ago, school board compensation was set by the Utah Legislature, at which time the state turned the matter over to local school districts.

Since then, the Washington County School Board has not passed any compensation increases. In researching the pay increase, the board compared local city council member pay, because of similar time demands. They also looked at statewide school board compensation rates to come up with a figure they were comfortable with.

We’re all comfortable remaining well below the average,” one board member said. “That’s kind of where we wanted to be.”

Board members said being below the average suits the conservative nature of their Washington County constituents.

The compensation issue and attendant public hearing were the only items on the board agenda.

Washington County School Board members are chosen in a general elections. Four members of the school board were elected or re-elected in the November general election: Stirland, LaRene Cox, Kelly Blake and Laura Hesson.

The Washington County School District is the largest employer in Washington County, and the district is the ninth largest in the state. School board members oversee district policy, the building of new schools, the hiring of principals and administrators, in addition to other duties such as serving on various boards throughout the county.

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  • NotSoFast May 27, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I bet the public was invited to attend the public notice meeting in question at the time of 3:30 AM on the day in question.

  • Michael May 27, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    How about they look at the part time employee pay. How many of the district employees are part time and when was the last time they got a raise? WCSD is taking advantage of so many. I can say this because I worked as a part time employee for a few years at one site. In that time I only saw one raise. 15 cents per hour. What a slap in the face. The reasoning is that it keeps the insurance down. It does. No insurance cost nothing. It also keeps the employees in poverty.

  • ladybugavenger May 27, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    If only we could all be on a board that could vote for are own raises…..did the teachers get raises?

  • kp000029 May 27, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I’m more concerned about what actual Washington County school district administrators are getting paid on average. I bet they are paid significantly more than our teachers and that is a problem.

  • tells it like it is May 27, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    I’m very disappointed in the board’s decision! A few years ago when the supt. got a huge raise, the board compared his compensation to our surrounding states. Now they’re doing that with their salaries??? How about comparing teacher salaries to surrounding states? After all, they are working full time at their jobs!

  • Dolly May 27, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    If I could double my salary, I would still be making less than my peers in California. Maybe that reason is sufficient for some. Glad this made the news and hope they are now feeling a little ashamed of themselves. Sneaky…

  • fun bag May 27, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    It’s Obama’s fault!!! Obama and the liberals!!! But these are all mormon republicans on this school board, so how do you explain that?…

  • arrowone May 28, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    As in many more places across the country, the school board should be voluntary, no more no less. They should be ashamed. At least no benefits at all because this should not be one’s primary job.

    • ladybugavenger May 28, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      No shame in that picture, they all look very prideful. So proud of themselves.

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