Members of the Montgomery County School Board would receive pay raises under legislation proposed by several state lawmakers.
A bill proposed by county Dels. Charles E. Barkley and Brian J. Feldman would raise annual salaries for board members by $6,500, making them some of the highest paid in the region. The board president's pay would increase from $22,500 to $29,000, and members' pay would increase from $18,500 to $25,000. The last time salaries were increased was in 2002.
In neighboring Prince George's County, members earn $18,000 a year and the president earns $19,000 a year, and in Fairfax County, members earn $20,000 while the chairman of the school board earns $22,000.
Barkley also is sponsoring a separate bill that would add two at-large members to the board, giving the board five members selected from geographic districts, four at-large members and a student representative.
The raise proposal comes as the county faces a $136 million budget gap for fiscal 2014, and Superintendent Joshua Starr is asking for an extra $10 million above the state-mandated $39 million increase to the schools' $2.22 billion budget.
County spokesman Patrick Lacefield said County Executive Ike Leggett hasn't had a chance to see the bill and has no position on it. Board President Christopher Barclay said he and the school board had not taken a position on the legislation and declined to say whether he supported it, but pointed out that the job is time-consuming.
"The work is the work," he said. "It is difficult, it is time consuming, it's not part-time work; but the proposal didn't come from the board, it came from the legislature."
Barkley said he was moved to author his bills after he realized how little
board members were being paid and how much work they do.
"I didn't do it because somebody asked me to do it," he said. "I just started looking at the salaries, and I thought we need to do something here -- it just doesn't seem fair."
Barkley said the raises would increase the budget by less than $50,000, and increasing the amount of money might make the positions more attractive to a more diverse set of candidates.