This story has been corrected to show that Horry County Council earns $15,966 per year.
The Horry County Schools Board of Education members voted Monday to give themselves a 66 percent raise, making them the highest-paid school board members in South Carolina.
David Cox, District 4, made a motion to change governance policy GC-10 to tie board member pay with that of county council, whose members earn $15,966 per year. The school board chair will earn 20 percent more than the board. That salary will not be tied to the county council chairman’s pay.
Previously, governance policy stated that board members’ pay was up to the board and was reviewed every other year. The vote did not change the board members’ $300-per-month travel stipend.
The motion passed with only Chris Hardwick of District 9, Ray Winters of District 3 and vice chairman Neil James of District 10 voting against the measure. John Poston of District 8 was not present during the meeting.
“I feel like we’re compensated adequately,” said James, who added that he had received a lot of input from his constituents. “I know that the demands and expectations of board members are going up, but for me, I consider serving on the board to be a privilege. It’s an honor to represent my constituents and I’m willing to give.”
Chairman Joe DeFeo was in favor of the motion, saying that board responsibilities take up a lot of time.
“It just interferes with everything [else] you do every day,” he said. “It becomes aristocratic. A normal person can’t do it. It will open the opportunity for more people to run for school board, because they generally will not.”
Before Monday’s vote, governance policy stated that board pay should be changed if deemed appropriate in accordance with “current market data.”
District spokeswoman Teal Britton said no study had been done to determine the “current market data” for board pay. Before the raise, board members were paid $9,600 per year, a salary that was set in 2007. The board chair was receiving $13,440 per year.
Before the raise, the highest-paid board in the state was the Greenville County School District, the state’s largest, where board members earn $10,749 per year and the board chair earns $12,017.
Greenville County has around 76,000 students, whereas Horry County has more than 43,000 students, the state’s third largest behind Greenville and Charleston counties.
But DeFeo said he was concerned only about what other boards and councils in Horry County earn, because school boards in other parts of the state are smaller and not as involved as the Horry County Schools Board of Education.
The preliminary 2017-18 budget for the district includes pay raises for teachers and staff as well.
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian