Sunday, January 05, 2014

Raise CCSD Board of Trustees' Pay Gradually for Future

Superintendent of Charleston County Schools Nancy McGinley's salary tops that of Charleston's Mayor. The district's operating budget must be the highest in the county, with the possible exception of Boeing's. If the job of CCSD's Board of Trustees is to oversee the Superintendent, which it is, the compensation of $25 per meeting appears truly out of proportion.

Why should anybody care? Compensation as now configured presupposes that elected Board officials are mere dilettantes, spending little time on their roles. Or it assumes that members taking their duties seriously must be wealthy or retired. If a single meeting takes even one hour to prepare for and merely two hours in session (and how often is a session that short?), that amounts to a minimum of three hours of work for $25, not much more than the minimum wage.

Why does Dorchester District 2 pay its Board members $600 a month and its Board Chairman $750? Why do other districts in this state pay much more than that? 

It's all very well to talk about noblesse oblige and "giving back." Board members whose compensation amounts to two or three lattes must be more vulnerable to other forms of bribery than those who are compensated well. Not long ago, Louisiana had one of the lowest salaries for its governor, but then he was expected to steal the rest. Think of Huey Long and Edwin Edwards. Human nature doesn't change.

Let's match DD2's compensation for the next round of school board elections. The amount of money involved is chump change in a district flowing with millions in operating and capital expenses.

Such a raise would be a step forward in honesty in government.

1 comment:


It's all in the presentation. The way the Charleston paper put it, the difference is between $25 per meeting for Charleston school board chairman and $750 per month for the same job in Dorchester 2. It would look a lot different if the article had said $1,250 per year in Charleston and $9,000 per year in Dorchester. No one bothered to say Dorchester 2 is a lot smaller than Charleston.

So before we jump to the idea that we get what we pay for, consider that Charleston pays its superintendent almost $100,000 a year more than what the Dorchester 2 superintendent gets. Which district has better school?

If the size of the job mattered, Charleston school board members should receive at least as much as their counterparts are paid in Dorchester and Berkeley Counties. Maybe the reason for the difference is because school boards in the neighboring counties really do oversee their superintendents and Charleston's school board doesn't. Even at $25 per meeting or $1,250 a year, that is a pretty expensive Rubber Stamp.

Until Charleston school board members are held accountable for the superintendent’s actual job performance (not the grade she gives herself), the chump change they are currently receiving may still be too much.