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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Committee kills bill to slash Florida school board salaries



A bill to turn Florida's school board members into volunteers receiving a small stipend per meeting failed to make its way out of its first committee stop.

The measure (SB 2172) did not get support from the Senate Pre-K-12 Committee even after sponsor Steve Wise, the panel's Republican chairman, amended the legislation to set board member pay at the same rate that lawmakers get, rather than a near complete elimination of the salaries.

"This is a part-time job. We are a part-time job," Wise said. "Why would we not have school board members the same as us?"

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Wellington, said she did not believe most board members or other public officials serve for the pay.

"I served eight years on City Council for $9,000 in pay," she said. "I willingly took on the role for really no money because I valued the opportunity to participate in shaping the future of my community."

At the same time, she continued, lawmakers should take into account all the financial changes coming down for officials, such as new pension and health benefit regulations. Moreover, she added, it seems more appropriate to consider the pay of all government officials and not just school board members, if the Legislature is to go down this path.

"County commissioners make a heck of a lot of money for the work we do," Benacquisto said. "If we're going to scale back, let's look at everyone."

Wise was the only committee member to support his bill. 

[Last modified: Thursday, April 14, 2011 11:06am]


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