Education is not funded at a level that is on par with what we want for our students and communities. Often, teachers spend their own money for essential supplies needed for their classrooms in addition to giving parents lists of required or suggested supplies at the start of the school year. Additionally, many schools are in disrepair and lacking vital programs and services that allow our students to excel. In light of these facts, whenever raises go to the top of school districts, there is always pushback from those who feel the strains of being underfunded and underpaid.
When it was announced that the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education members, who choose to serve in their role full-time, would receive a 174% raise very few people were happy about the move. Salaries of full-time LA school board members are set to go from about $46,000 annually to $ 125,000 per year. Part-time board members’ salaries would increase from $26,000 to $50,000. The raises were unanimously approved by the district’s compensation review committee after hearing testimony in which it was said that board members spend up to 60 hours a week on district business and make less than their chiefs of staff. These raises are set to take effect in 60 days.
LAUSD Board President Dr. Ref Rodriguez said, “We thank the LAUSD Board of Education Compensation Review Committee for engaging in a thoughtful and comprehensive process that ultimately supports our continued efforts on behalf of the students, families, and school communities we serve,” of the raises.
To justify, these raises have to be married with greater accountability. In theory, if board members are paid well enough to serve full-time, they should be more available, informed and responsive. As such, it is the duty of stakeholders to hold leaders accountable to the communities they serve, especially when they are compensated to do so. As such, this creates both the necessity and opportunity for the LAUSD School Board to strengthen partnerships they have with community stakeholders.
As a school board member, I know the sacrifices and amount of work involved in being a part of a governance team very intimately. Likewise, I know how it feels to feel like I am not adequately paid for the work that I do. I would be more than happy for the opportunity to serve in my role as a board member full-time.
One of the more frequent complaints you receive as a board member who works a full-time job in addition to serving on a school board is that you aren’t present enough. In many ways, it seems like we work multiple full-time jobs. Few are aware of the hours spent away from work, school, and family required to respond to the needs of the community and or time spent researching and reading to make the most informed decisions. With that in mind, these raises are a good move if, and only if, they result in increased productivity and gains for students.