Thursday, June 13, 2024

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Commissioners agree to triple monthly pay for members of local school board

Alamance County’s commissioners have given passing marks to a threefold increase in the stipend that the members of the Alamance-Burlington school board receive every month for their service.

During a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, the commissioners voted 5-to-0 to raise the school board’s monthly allowance from $100 to $300 – a change that’s scheduled to take effect in the current month of July.

This hike had originally been slated to come before the commissioners as part of that evening’s “consent” agenda – a collection of putatively routine items that they usually sign off on en bloc. The commissioners nevertheless agreed to treat the proposed change as a regular agenda item after their chairman, John Paisley, Jr., conceded that he had received calls about the school board’s wage increase from the community.

The commissioners ultimately approved the proposal at the behest of Bruce Benson, the school system’s superintendent, who weighed in on their discussion via the Zoom teleconferencing platform. During his remarks to the commissioners, Benson reminded the county’s elected leaders that the school board hadn’t seen any change in its monthly allowance since the Alamance-Burlington school system formed in 1996 through the merger of two previously independent city and county school systems.

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“We’ve done an analysis of compensation for other school systems in the area,” Benson told the county’s governing board, “and the compensation for our board members is the lowest.

”We’re not asking for any additional resources to make this happen,” the superintendent added, “but it does require the commissioners to take action for us to be able to do that…And just to be clear, the [school] board did not ask that I try to improve their compensation. I quite frankly think it is the right thing to do.”

Benson’s recommendation drew nearly simultaneous motions to approve the request from Paisley and Steve Carter, the vice chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners.

County commissioner vice chairman Steve Carter.
County commissioner chairman John Paisley.
County commissioner Bill Lashley.

Although Paisley conceded the race to Carter and settled for seconding the vice chairman’s motion, he didn’t hesitate to hail the school board’s prospective pay raise as a “well-deserved” change.

“At $100 a month,” he said, “they’re not covering their gas expenses.”

Paisley’s remarks were echoed by commissioner Pam Thompson, who spent several terms on the school board herself before her elevation to the board of commissioners last year.

County commissioner Pam Thompson.

“The board of education works just as hard as the commissioners or any other group that leads,” she assured her fellow commissioners. “You work a lot of hours, you really do.”

The school board’s proposed pay increase even received a qualified endorsement from commissioner Craig Turner, who acknowledged his consternation with the school board’s apparent inaction on some matters.

County commissioner Craig Turner.

“But they’ve been under compensated for two decades,” he added, “so, I support it.”

Unlike a previously proposed pay raise that the commissioners flatly rejected earlier this year, the stipend that they unanimously accepted on Monday won’t take effect retroactively. Nor will it benefit former members of the Alamance-Burlington school board.

See editorial page comment on the commissioners’ action:

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