An independent commission for LAUSD appointed by the Los Angeles City Council has approved a raise for Los Angeles Unified school board members. Charter Measure L, approved by voters in 2007, created the LAUSD Board of Education Compensation Review Committee, which meets every five years to set compensation and benefits for board members. The committee, comprised of seven members of the community appointed by the LA City Council, is tasked with studying the scope of work required of board members and periodically review if compensation is commensurate with the work and time required. At the last meeting of the committee, they have concluded that LAUSD school board members are grossly underpaid and should receive a 174 percent pay increase. Please note that the LAUSD Board of Education is not authorized to give itself a raise. The independent committee has the sole authority of doing that.
School board President Dr. Ref Rodriguez, said he was surprised by the news.
“This is a total surprise,” Rodriguez told LA School Report. “But it will help all of us with our duties. I don’t think any of us expected this, but I know personally it does help my situation. I visit a lot of classrooms.”
Rodriguez seemed to agree overall that a raise was in order to better serve the needs of the school community as a board member. It in increasingly difficult to get elected to a Board of Education or a City Council seat and maintain the type of accessibility that is required of a board member if you also have a full time job. The increased stipend will allow board members to focus on the work of the district, increase accessibility and not have to worry about their quality of life being affected while they serve the public. In addition, the community does not seem to care for their elected school board member to be employed elsewhere. Take the case of former school board member Tamar Galatzan, who was unsuccessful in her re-election for school board. It should be noted that her loss was largely due to her inaccessibility to constituents, because she had a full time job.
School board members typically spend a lot of their time visiting schools, programs and conferences to keep themselves up to date with best practices and emerging ideas and resources. They also spend a huge chunk of their time and day attending commission meetings, dinners, lectures, parent meetings, school science fairs and other school events, etc. While being on the Board of Education is a public service, it is quite expensive to be an active and involved board member that is in touch with the community. Being an active and liked board member is not easy and not cheap. Some will strongly disagree that $125,000.00 is merited (it is currently paid at $45,627.00 with benefits), but I think it’s appropriate to allow a raise for LAUSD board members, mostly because it the biggest and most complex district in the state.
There will be backlash. Probably by UTLA, although, I have nothing to report as of yet. I imagine that UTLA will not be happy about this development, especially since the union has been lobbying for a two percent raise for a very long time. The board’s salary increase amounts will take effect in 60 days. At the last meeting five years ago, the LAUSD Board of Education Compensation Review Committee voted to not increase or change the salaries. The last meeting of the committee in 2012 did not result in any changes or increases. But this time around, the members of the committee seem resolute.
At the end of the day, having this type of salary implemented ensures that the district has full-time board members that can be available to the schools, students, and the constituents of their districts.
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