GazetteXtra Print Article Logo URL: http://www.tampabay.com/are-florida-school-board-members-paid-too-much/2342562


Are Florida school board members paid too much?

By Jeffrey S. Solochek
Collier County School Board member Erika Donalds has proposed ending school board member salaries statewide.

In most school districts around the nation, school board members do not get paid.

That's not the case in Florida. And Collier County board member Erika Donalds wants to put a change to that, using her post on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission to push the issue.

With the deadline for member-sponsored amendments arriving Tuesday, Donalds has proposed asking voters to end salaries for Florida's school board members. The board members would still be eligible for per diem and travel reimbursements under her plan.

"We need people who are doing it for the right reasons, not to make it a career," Donalds said. "Being a school board member is not a full time position."

She noted that people serving on the State Board of Education and the university system Board of Governors volunteer without compensation.

"They do that because they care about that mission and their cause, and they are willing to give up their time," Donalds said, suggesting that the removal of a salary should not limit the scope of people able to participate on school boards.

Florida school board members are paid annually between $25,456 (Liberty County) and $44,443 (Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Orange), depending on their district size. By contrast, board members in New York, Houston and Chicago do not get paid, while those in Clark County, Nev. (Las Vegas) receive $9,000 and in Los Angeles make $125,000.

Texas law states its school board trustees will serve without pay.

Florida lawmakers proposed ending school board salaries back in 2011, one of several attempts to affect board members who opposed policies coming from the state. The Palm Beach Post opined at the time that it appeared the Legislature was taking "another swipe at public education."

It didn't pass.