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Commissioners don’t sign off on tripling monthly pay for school board

Alamance County’s board of commissioners has decided not to sign off on a proposal that would’ve effectively tripled the monthly pay that members of the Alamance-Burlington school board receive for their service.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Monday, the five-member board of commissioners chose not to act on a request from Alamance-Burlington school system that would’ve retroactively increased the school board’s monthly compensation from $100 to $300.

The school board’s proposed pay raise already appears in the school system’s current annual budget, which formally took effect in July of last year. State law nevertheless demands that the increased salary receive a nod from the board of commissioners before it can be implemented. In a memo to the county’s administrators, Jeremy Teetor, the school system’s finance officer, acknowledged that he had his colleagues had waited until now to request this permission due to other, more pressing priorities related to the coronavirus pandemic. Teetor went on to recommend that the increased amount be backdated to July 1, when the rest of the school system’s budget became effective

During Monday’s discussion about this request, the county’s governing board heard some insights from commissioner Pam Thompson, who had served on the school board prior to her elevation to her current position.

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“I was on the board at the time this happened, and the board itself did not make this motion,” Thompson recalled. “It was brought before the [school] board [by the school system’s staff] for that to happen.”

Thompson went on to add that the school board hasn’t received a hike in its $100 monthly rate since the merger of the erstwhile Alamance County and city of Burlington school systems in 1996.

None of the commissioners ultimately objected to the proposed size of the three-fold hike in the school board’s allowance. Yet, the retroactive nature of his proposal drew an adamant protest from commissioner Bill Lashley, who had grudgingly voted with his fellow commissioners last month for a similarly backdated pay raise for Alamance County’s staff.

“I will not vote for a retroactive pay raise ever again,” the commissioner declared. “It doesn’t happen in the private sector, and it hasn’t happened to me.”

“I substantially agree,” added John Paisley, Jr., the chairman of Alamance County’s commissioners. “We [also] have a budget coming up that we will be discussing in April.”

The board’s vice chairman, Steve Carter, agreed with Paisley’s assessment, although he offered some justification for the requested increase.

“In their defense, they do a lot of travel time,” Carter said of the school board. “But I believe this should be considered when we do the budget.”

In the end, the proposed increase died for lack of a motion.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  Take a poll on what increase, if any, school board members should receive: Salary for school board members: what do you think is the right amount?  Vote on this unscientific online poll:

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