IW School Board members vote themselves raises

Published 5:14 pm Friday, June 10, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Isle of Wight County School Board members voted themselves $1,000 pay raises on June 9.

Currently, board members are paid $5,000 per year, with the chairman or chairwoman receiving $6,000. According to Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton, the stipends haven’t changed since at least 2005 when the school system began using its Munis financial software.

The new $6,000 stipend for board members and $7,000 stipend for the chair won’t take effect until Jan. 1. Per state law, raises for elected school board members must be voted upon 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.

Board member Michael Vines’ Windsor-area seat and the Carrollton-area seat held by Renee Dial are each up for a special election in November, as both members were appointed last year when their elected predecessors resigned midterm.

Vines had been the one to bring up the idea of increasing school board members’ stipends at the board’s Jan. 6 reorganizational meeting. Chairwoman Denise Tynes, in February, named Vice Chairman Michael Cunningham and Carrsville-area member John Collick to a committee tasked with deciding on a dollar amount.

Giving each board member and the chair the same $1,000 raise, which would amount to a roughly 20% increase over their current stipends, had been one of three options Cunningham and Collick proposed in March. The increase would put Isle of Wight’s school board stipends in line with Surry County, which already pays its school board members $6,000 and $7,200 to the chair despite having a much smaller school system and overall population.

Cunningham and Collick had initially looked at increasing each member’s salary to $8,200 and the chair’s to $10,200, which would have put Isle of Wight in line with Gloucester County. Gloucester, according to school officials, is comparable in population to Isle of Wight but has a smaller school system.

Another option Cunningham and Collick had considered was giving cost-of-living adjustments for each year since 2005, which would have resulted in board members being paid $7,000 annually and the chair being paid $8,000.

Collick, who as of January had opposed the idea of giving any raises, voted with his fellow board members to approve the 20% option unanimously.

“If it was not that we’re getting ready to hit over 8.5% inflation … I would probably still be opposed to it,” Collick said.

“It’s not like the little stipend we are getting from this board is going to make a major difference in our lifestyle,” Tynes added, noting most board members would likely put their increase toward fuel costs.

According to AAA, the average price per gallon of gas is now just over $4.80 in Virginia. While board members have the option of requesting reimbursement for the miles they drive to and from school-related business, “we don’t, because we just take the little stipend, and we’re satisfied with that,” Tynes said.