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Decatur School Board increases salaries, adds benefits for board members

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Decatur School Board increases salaries, adds benefits for board members

The Decatur School Board discussed board salaries and benefits, as well as grading, during its monthly meeting on Oct. 10, 2023, at the Wilson School Support Center. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board, at its Oct. 10 regular meeting, approved an increase to the salary for school board members and the school district will begin to offer benefits and contribute toward health insurance premiums for board members.

The increased pay and benefits will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The salaries will increase from $600 a month to $900 for board members, $925 a month for the vice chair, and $950 a month for the board chair.

Since January 2020, board members have received $600 a month and the board chair receives an additional $50 a month. From January 2018 to December 2019, board members received a $50 per diem per meeting and were reimbursed for expenses.

“The annual salary review not only takes into consideration current duties, such as monthly board meetings, including executive and work sessions, professional learning and constituent engagement,” said Adena Walker, chief human resources officer.  “It also acknowledges the increased responsibilities for quarterly board retreats, which aligned for data deep dives, weekly meetings with the superintendent to create systems and structures for organizational effectiveness, community engagement meetings to enhance two-way communication with the community and monthly book studies to increase knowledge and alignment with the strategic plan.”

School board members also participate at their own cost in any form of insurance made available to CSD staff. The school district does not contribute toward health insurance premiums for school board members.

“The out-of-pocket monthly amount for the board maximum for state health is $1,274.67 per month,” Walker said. “Also, board members have the option to pay their premiums through their compensation or remit the amount directly to the district.”

Board Member Tasha White said it’s important to consider what the board members earn.

“At one point there was a time when babysitting, for example, wasn’t even covered, so it was creating a barrier for some people to run for this seat knowing it could actually cost them to sit in this seat,” White said. “Over the years, we’ve been stripping away those barriers. I’m very happy to see that we are also now adding in health care.”

Board Vice Chair Carmen Sulton agreed and added she didn’t run for the school board for the pay.

“I do think that what we want is for varying perspectives, and we don’t want for there to be barriers in place whereby people feel like they can’t run or don’t want to run or don’t want to provide their perspective because there are limitations, like child care,” Sulton said.

Board Member Hans Utz added that for a few months toward the beginning of the year, he spent more time on the school board than his day job. He added that being able to serve on the school board should be available to anyone in the community.

“The thought of a single parent trying to perform this role every month, we just want to ensure that we take as many of those limitations and barriers away,” Utz said. “That’s a critical voice to have up here. This should not become the ability of the privileged and the wealthy to be able to sit on this panel. We ought to be able to make it that anyone in this community that is interested in representing their children’s interests ought to be able to sit up here.”

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