Originally created 02/12/99

Board may get increase in pay



Richmond County Board of Education trustees approved a resolution Thursday to allow the Georgia Legislature to give them a raise.

Though the measure was approved unanimously, board members voiced mixed reactions to an increase in pay.

Trustee John Seitz, one of two newly elected board members, said he was voted in on his current salary and would support a pay increase that would take effect after he leaves office in four years.

Trustees currently receive $4,000 a year. Board President Mary Oglesby gets $5,000, and Vice President Andrew Jefferson receives $4,500.

"I can't sit here in good conscience and vote myself more money," Mr. Seitz said.

Trustee Adna Stein, who was president last year, said each time the issue of a raise is brought up, some trustees are against it.

He's not one of them.

"The last compensation given to the board was in 1989," Mr. Stein said. "We still drive our personal vehicles up and down the highway going to different schools. I'm not ashamed to say I accept the compensation."

The resolution would allow the Legislature to set the "appropriate" increase for board members and would not take effect right away, officials said.

Trustee Kingsley Riley said she has a problem with board members getting raises when teachers feel they aren't properly compensated.

Superintendent Charles Larke said teachers will always get their raises and added that compared to those of similar-sized counties, salaries of Richmond County school trustees are among the lowest in the state.

A review of salaries of Georgia school board members shows:

-- DeKalb County board members, president and vice president receive $15,600 a year.

-- Bibb County board members, president and vice president get $7,200.

-- Fulton County board members and their leaders get $10,200.

-- Gwinnett County board members get $9,000.

-- Atlanta city school board members get $10,696, the president receives $11,696 and the vice president gets $11,192.

School board attorney Pete Fletcher said he suggested the Legislature take a look at the trustees' salaries.

"Every 10 years it's brought up," Mr. Fletcher said of the raises. "I don't want anyone to think you all are lobbying to get yourselves a raise."

Mr. Fletcher said the school board's next step would be to advertise in local newspapers that the Legislature is considering the salary increase. The Legislature then would decide when the salary increases would take effect.

The resolution would make other changes, including votes required to fire the superintendent.

The school board's charter, when there were nine trustees, called for six members to vote out the superintendent. Now that there are 10 members, the resolution would allow for seven affirmative votes.

The resolution would set the maximum term of the superintendent at three years, bringing it in line with the state law.

Dr. Larke has a three-year contract, but the school board's charter says he's allowed up to four years, Mr. Fletcher said.