School board votes to increase its pay
Grady County Board of Education members will get a raise in pay effective Jan. 1, 2017.
On Tuesday night, the board voted unanimously to increase school board member compensation from $50 per meeting to $250 per month for board members and $300 per month for the board chairman.
Action to increase board pay has previously been opposed by board member Jeff Worsham, but on Tuesday night he voted in favor of the pay raise.
However, Worsham expressed his wish to put the question before the voters in a referendum so the voters could determine if the board deserved a raise.
Board member Teresa Gee Harris, who has championed the increase in compensation, asked if the other local governments acted similarly and Worsham acknowledged they do not.
“None of us ran or serve on this board for the money. It’s somewhat of a thankless job and we could never pay ourselves what we’re worth. Being a board member is a 24/7 job. I’ve served on this board for 18 years and the money has never been the reason I served and it’s still not the reason. However, I think we need to bring the pay up to standard,” Harris said.
She noted that the pay was set in 1968 and even the taxpayers cannot believe the pay is so low.
“The taxpayers will understand and respect us as being good stewards over the system’s finances. We’ve proven that over the years thanks to the help of Mr. Broome (school finance officer). If you look around the state we’re doing pretty good in comparison,” Harris said.
Board member John White asked for clarification that the proposed rate was a monthly fee and not a per meeting fee. “A monthly fee and no per diem, just regular travel reimbursement,” Harris said.
Currently, the board members are paid $50 for every meeting and a $50 per diem when away on school system business such as annual conferences.
Board member Worsham said he agreed with everything Harris said, but that his opposition before had been the perception of the board voting themselves a pay raise.
Board attorney Thomas L. Lehman pointed out that if approved, the new salary would not go into effect until the new board was seated. Worsham noted that the current members are the new board since none of those up for election were opposed. However, White must stand for election in a special election in November and qualifying for the special election does not open until next month so there is a possibility not all of the current members will be in office to receive the new rate of pay.
The issue was placed on the agenda, according to Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard so that he and his administrative team would know what to budget for in the 2016-2017 budget.
“I don’t have a vote, but I think the increase is certainly warranted. As a former elected official, I can tell you that you all receive many more calls on this board than I did the eight years I served on the city council,” Gilliard said.
Board Chairman Laura Register agreed and said that the raise was a sign of respect and that the board members’ service is valued. “I enjoy serving and I think this will be money well spent,” Register said.
Harris offered a motion to approve the raise and her motion was seconded by board member Robbie Chaplin and approved unanimously.
In other business Tuesday night, the board:
Approved the hiring of the following personnel: Betsy McPherson – special ed speech teacher; Jennifer Cliett – parapro at Southside; Jeremy Edwards – ISS teacher and coach at Cairo High School; Royale Armstrong – science teacher at CHS; Ashley Dumas – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Whigham; Carissa Walker – English teacher at Whigham; Nive Moore – business ed teacher at Whigham; Jorden Perry – media specialist at Southside; Judy Cook – CTAE bookkeeper at CHS; Jenna Bolton – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Shiver; Caroline Harvey – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Eastside; Quinyeda Frazier – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Eastside; Myra Would – counselor at Washington Middle School; Jacqueline Roach – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Eastside; and Maribeth Wiggins – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Eastside.
Accepted the resignations of the following: Mark Lashley – ag teacher at CHS; Lisa Johnson – middle grades teacher at Washington; Lynda Davis – ISS teacher at WMS; Brittany L. Daughtry – Spanish teacher at CHS; Yvette Morrell – special ed teacher at CHS; Evelyn David – 49 percent special ed teacher at Northside; Amber Addison – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Eastside; Wanda Ross – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Eastside; Leah Harper – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Southside; and Joy Sellers – Pre-K – 5 teacher at Southside.
Approved the following transfers: Melissa McClendon from teacher at Eastside to PE teacher and head girls basketball coach at CHS and Jennifer Willis from teacher at Whigham to instructional coordinator at Eastside.