Legislation could lead to higher pay for school board members

A bill introduced in Olympia and initiated by the Superintendent of Public Instruction would increase the pay that school board directors are eligible to receive within the state.

Superintendent Reykdal states that the bill, Senate Bill 6223, was introduced by Senator Joe Nguyễn to update state law to allow for school board directors throughout the state to receive more than the current limit.

The bill states that “The legislature declares it is the policy of the state to: (1) Ensure, for the sake of educational excellence, that the electorate has the broadest and most diverse possible field in which to choose qualified candidates for its school boards; (2) ensure that the opportunity to serve on school boards is open to all, regardless of financial circumstances; and (3) ensure that the time-consuming and demanding service as directors is not limited to those able or willing to make substantial personal and financial sacrifices.”

Reykdal says that state law, which was last updated in 1987, does not allow school board directors to earn more than $50 per day and $4,800 per year when attending board meetings and performing other services on behalf of the school district.

Adjusted for inflation, Reykdal states that those amounts from 1987 today would be $138 per day and $13,240 per year, a difference of 176%.

The Superintendent adds that this compensation may cause those interested to not run for the positions due to being unable to take time off work, afford childcare, and/or access transportation to attend the monthly meetings.

Senator Joe Nguyễn introduced Senate Bill 6223 to address these imbalances. If passed, the bill would establish a new compensation model for school board directors that more appropriately reflects the level of responsibility associated with the position.

“Each year, our students, families, educators, and school staff become increasingly more diverse,” said Senator Nguyễn. “Those who govern our schools, though, are often not reflective of the communities they serve. We have a chance to remove a significant financial barrier to this critical role, opening up the opportunity to serve to many more interested community members.”

The compensation model proposed in the legislation allows for school board directors to receive a maximum amount equaling $500 per month plus $0.50 per student enrolled in the district. For example, in a district with 5,000 students, school board directors could earn up to a maximum of $8,500 per year. 

Proposed Local School District Director Compensation Limits

County School District Enrollment Monthly Stipend $0.50 per student Total under SB 6223
Grays Harbor Aberdeen School District #5 3311 $500 $1,655.50 $7,656
Grays Harbor Cosmopolis School District #99 167 $500 $83.50 $6,084
Grays Harbor Elma School District #68 1713 $500 $856.50 $6,857
Grays Harbor Hoquiam School District #28 1615 $500 $807.50 $6,808
Grays Harbor Lake Quinault School District #97 223 $500 $111.50 $6,112
Grays Harbor Mary M. Knight School District #79 884 $500 $442.00 $6,442
Grays Harbor McCleary School District #65 350 $500 $175.00 $6,175
Grays Harbor Montesano School District #66 1457 $500 $728.50 $6,729
Grays Harbor North Beach School District #64 700 $500 $350.00 $6,350
Grays Harbor North River School District #300 60 $500 $30.00 $6,030
Grays Harbor Oakville School District #400 346 $500 $173.00 $6,173
Grays Harbor Ocosta School District #172 600 $500 $300.00 $6,300
Grays Harbor Rochester School District #61 2153 $500 $1,076.50 $7,077
Grays Harbor Satsop School District #104 59 $500 $29.50 $6,030
Grays Harbor Taholah School District #77 182 $500 $91.00 $6,091
Grays Harbor Wishkah Valley School District #117 180 $500 $90.00 $6,090
Pacific Naselle-Grays River Valley School District 324 $500 $162.00 $6,162
Pacific Ocean Beach School District 1031 $500 $515.50 $6,516
Pacific Raymond School District 506 $500 $253.00 $6,253
Pacific South Bend School District 628 $500 $314.00 $6,314
Pacific Willapa Valley School District 371 $500 $185.50 $6,186

School boards would have the ability to adopt a compensation model that is lower than the maximum allowed if they choose.

The funding for the salaries would be taken out of state funds as requested by OSPI each biennium.

“School board directors play a significant role in the leadership of a school district,” said State Superintendent Chris Reykdal. “We expect them to manage multi-million-dollar budgets, adopt local policies and governance, review and approve curriculum and instructional materials, and make informed decisions that have a major impact on the way their district serves their students, staff, and families.”

“In total, our 295 school boards manage 43% of our state’s tax dollars, as well as their local levy funds. They deserve fair compensation for the paramount duty they perform for our state,” Reykdal continued.

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