Members of the Horry County Schools Board of Education will vote a second time on increasing their own salaries by 66 percent.
They must not codify this unjustified spending of $75,745 a year.
Last week, the board approved increasing members’ salaries from $9,600 a year to $15,966, the same compensation for members of Horry County Council. School board chairman Joe DeFeo’s salary would go to $19,159 from $13,440. School board members also have a $300-per-month travel stipend. The $9,600 compensation is more than adequate, and in fact is generous, considering the fact that in 30 of South Carolina’s 81 school districts, board members receive no pay. Across the United States, 62 percent of school board members receive no pay.
In the 51 S.C. districts compensating members, the amounts paid are as diverse as one can imagine. In one of Florence County’s four school districts, Florence 2, members are paid $30 a month and the chairman $50 a month. In Florence 1, members are paid $7,000 a year, the vice chairman $7,500 and the chairman $8,200. Florence 5 is one of the S.C. districts with no pay.
The highest paid school board members are in Greenville County, where the salary in 2016 was $10,749 a year for members and $12,017 for the chairman. Board salary increases are the same as annual cost of living increases for non-teaching employees of the school district.
Here on the Grand Strand, Georgetown County board members receive annual compensation of $6,719 and the chairman $9,406. Charleston County pay is $25 per meeting, with a limit of 50 meetings a year, or $1,250. Surely the most frugal of taxpayers would not fuss about $1,250 a year, but serving on a school board should be about more than the money. Really.
Horry County’s Neil James (District 10) spoke to this when he voted against the increase. “I feel like we’re compensated adequately. 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 serve.”
Accountability credits go also to Chris Hardwick (District 9) and Ray Winters (District 3) who voted against the increase.
Members Holly Heniford (District 1), Sherrie Todd (2), David Cox (4), Janice Morreale (5), Pam Timms (6), Janet Graham (7) and Shanda Allen (11) voted in favor. District 8 member John Poston was not at the meeting. Board chairman Joe DeFeo, elected countywide, initiated the increase, although the motion was by Cox. DeFeo said the additional pay “will open the opportunity for more people to run for school board, because they generally will not.”
It’s debatable that the salary and travel stipend motivate people to seek election to the school board, or that a $6,096 additional salary will attract more candidates. It’s questionable public policy to allow school board members to raise their own salaries, but that’s another matter, for the General Assembly. HCS board members were elected to $9,600-per-year positions and there is no good reason to increase the salaries.
School board members
Horry County school board members voted 7-3 on Feb. 6 to increase their $9,600 annual salaries to $15,996. The matter must have a recond reading, with 21 days between the readings. Here are the votes, phone numbers and email addresses of board members by district. Board chairman Joe DeFeo of Conway has a vote only in case of a tie. Phone | 843-222-5912 | email | firstname.lastname@example.org
District #1 | Holly Heniford, North Myrtle Beach | Yes | 843-543-0301 | email@example.com
District #2 | Sherrie Todd, Myrtle Beach | Yes | 843-997-1814 |firstname.lastname@example.org
District #3 | Ray H. Winters, Myrtle Beach | No | 843-450-4384 | email@example.com
District #4 | David Cox, Myrtle Beach | Yes | 843-458-7345 | davidcox@horrycountyschools/net
District #5 | Janice Morreale, Surfside Beach | Yes | 843-241-4070 | janicemorreale@horrycountyschools
District #6 | Pam Timms, Myrtle Beach | Yes | 843-236-1629 | firstname.lastname@example.org
District #7 | Janet Graham, Conway | Yes | 843-349-5070 | email@example.com
District #8 | John Poston, Conway | Absent | 843-234-2013 | firstname.lastname@example.org
District #9 | Chris Hardwick, Loris | No | 843-283-7450 | email@example.com
District #10 | Neil James, Loris | No | 843-756-2500 | firstname.lastname@example.org
District #11 | Shanda Allen, Aynor | Yes | 843-358-3583 | email@example.com
Here are salary ranges for U.S. school board members in districts of more than 15,000 students. HCS enrollment is 42,000.
No salary | 46.5 percent
Less than $5,000 | 9.6 percent
$5K - $9,999 | 21.7
$10K - $15K | 14.3 percent
More than $15K | 7.8 percent
Source: National Association of School Boards