Three options for School Board raises

Published 3:57 pm Friday, March 11, 2022

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Isle of Wight County’s School Board is considering three options for giving its members a raise.

Board member Michael Vines had brought the matter up during the School Board’s Jan. 6 reorganizational meeting and again at the board’s Jan. 13 meeting. In February, Board Chairwoman Denise Tynes named Vice Chairman Michael Cunningham and board member John Collick to a committee, which she tasked with researching and recommending a dollar amount or percentage for the proposed raise.

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

The first option would increase each member’s salary to $8,200 and the chairman’s or chairwoman’s salary to $10,200 – putting Isle of Wight in line with Gloucester County, which is comparable in population to Isle of Wight but has a smaller school system.

The amount would be roughly equal to the hourly rate the school system’s lowest-paid employees earn, based on the assumption that board members devote roughly 10 hours per week to school business, and the chairperson devotes just over 12 hours.

The second option would provide cost-of-living adjustments for each year since 2005, resulting in board members being paid $7,000 annually and the chair being paid $8,000. According to Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton, with the exception of the chair, board members haven’t seen a raise since at least 2005 when the school system began using its Munis financial software.

The third option is a 20% raise, which would pay board members $6,000 annually and $7,200 to the chair. The third option would put Isle of Wight in line with Surry County, which presently pays its board members more despite having a much smaller school system and overall population.

The committee also considered doing nothing as a fourth option.

According to Cunningham, the Isle of Wight School Board’s current salaries equate to roughly $2.06 per hour – well below Virginia’s minimum $11 hourly wage. Chairwoman Denise Tynes added that School Board members are presently allowed to request reimbursement for the miles they drive, though none have done so.

Per state law, raises for elected school board members must be voted on before the July 1 start of a new fiscal year and can only take effect the year following an election where two or more seats are on the ballot. Vines’ seat and board member Renee Dial’s are up for a special election this November, as both were appointed last year when their elected predecessors resigned midterm. Were the board to choose any of the first three options, the raises would take effect starting Jan. 1.

Collick, who had initially opposed the idea of giving himself and his fellow board members a raise, said he would possibly be “fully onboard” if the matter were tabled until May. Dial also requested a delay to consider the three options.

“I just think the timing is wrong,” Collick said.