School board may be in line for big pay hike

The Board of Education could soon ask voters to give its members a raise — a big one.

Board members get a $500 monthly stipend, but under a proposal introduced by Supervisor Bevan Dufty, that could skyrocket to $50,000 annually, plus benefits. The proposal is a charter amendment that would have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors and voters.

If voters sign off on this, it would make serving on the San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education — at the very least — a part-time job. Some board members say they already treat the position as a job, putting in 20-plus hours a week reading reports, attending meetings and crafting education policy.

The proposal would require commissioners to meet a minimum standard of basic training and professional development — something current board members have not done, said Jill Wynns, who has sat on the Board of Education for 18 years.

“The Board of Education is a job and requires professionalism and you have to pay attention to it and you need flexibility,” Wynns said. “And for those who have had very demanding regular jobs, it makes it difficult and that doesn’t serve the school district well.”

Wynns pointed out that the current charter locked school board members into a $500 monthly stipend back in the 1970s. If the board had followed the state education code, each member would be earning at least $12,000 more annually, she said.

City supervisors say under the current system, only the wealthier residents of the district are able to take the time to serve on the board. That brings little diversity to a school board that represents 55,000 students from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

“It’s important to have good representation on a board that understands the schools need to make good decisions,” Supervisor John Avalos said.

For a district that recently cut $113 million from its budget, the change could be a tough sell to voters. But those who support the proposal hope voters will understand the importance of a smart and savvy board of education.

“Yeah, there have been cuts,” Avalos said. “But this is vitally important to making schools more relevant to the people of San Francisco. You can find $450,000 annually out of a $5 million budget even with budgetary constraints.”

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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