School Board raises referred to committee

Published 7:11 pm Friday, February 18, 2022

Isle of Wight County’s School Board, on Feb. 10, again tabled District 2 member Michael Vines’ request that he and his fellow board members be given raises — and instead referred the matter to a committee.

Board Chairwoman Denise Tynes named Vice Chairman Michael Cunningham and District 1 board member John Collick to the committee, which she tasked with researching and recommending a dollar amount or percentage for the proposed raise.

Vines, who holds the District 2 seat, brought the matter up during the School Board’s Jan. 6 reorganizational meeting, and again at the board’s meeting on Jan. 13.

Currently, Isle of Wight School Board members are paid $5,000 per year, with the chairman or chairwoman receiving $6,000.

“It has been years, I don’t know how far back, that Isle of Wight County’s School Board has had a raise,” Tynes said.

In 2015, she said, the board approved a $500 raise for the chair. According to Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton, regular board members haven’t seen a raise since at least 2005 when the school system began using its Munis financial software.

Per state law, raises for elected school board members can only take effect the year following an election where two or more seats are on the ballot. Vines’ seat and the District 4 seat held by Renee Dial are up for a special election this November, as both members were appointed last year after their elected predecessors resigned mid-term.

According to a comparison school staff presented to the board, Gloucester County — which is comparable in population to Isle of Wight but has a smaller school system — pays its school board members $8,200 annually, and its board chairman $10,000.

Surry County, despite having a much smaller school system and overall population than Isle of Wight, pays its school board members $6,000 and its chairwoman, $7,000.

The city of Suffolk, which has a population of over 94,000 to Isle of Wight’s estimated 38,600, voted at its Jan. 4 reorganizational meeting to set a salary of $10,000 for board members and $11,400 for its chairwoman.

“We’re not trying to compete with the cities,” Tynes said.

The School Board intends to revisit the matter during a future work session once Cunningham and Collick complete their research and bring a recommendation.

Collick, for his part, said he’s disinclined to vote for a raise at present.

“I still think it’s premature at this point until … we get some work behind us, to be honest,” Collick said.