The Horry County Board of Education voted Monday to give themselves a 66 percent increase in pay.
Board members’ pay will increase from $9,600 per year to $15,966 per year, making them South Carolina’s highest-paid board.
The original motion tied pay to county council, but Pam Timms of District 6 amended the motion to raise board pay to county council’s level without tying it to future county council pay raises.
Board Chairman Joe DeFeo’s pay is 20 percent more than the board’s and is not tied to the county council chair’s pay. It will increase from $13,440 to more than $19,000.
“I don’t want this to turn into an aristocratic job where people can not afford to run for office,” said DeFeo, after chiding Ray Winters of District 3 for speaking in opposition.
DeFeo criticized the position as being a job that only rich people such as lawyers can afford. Winters, a lawyer, said he works 60 hours a week as an attorney. Winters voted against the pay raise.
The board has justified their action by asserting their increased involvement in the district justifies their pay raise, citing the number of hours they work. With 43,101 students in 2016, Horry County is the third-largest district in the state. However, it’s ranked 63 and out 81 districts with a graduation rate at 80.51 percent, according to a South Carolina Department of Education datasheet for overall graduation rates. The statewide average is 82.6 percent, and the data used for these graduation rates includes charter schools.
Horry County students have the 13th highest average ACT composite score in the state, at 18.6. The state average is 18.2 and the maximum score possible is 36.
In both categories, some of the top 10 districts in the state have unpaid school boards.
David Cox, of District 4 voted in favor, of the raise, saying the raise constituted .0003 percent of the budget
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian