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School Board considers stipend

The Mercer Island School Board is discussing the possibility of paying its members a stipend and plans to vote on the proposal this month. At present, board members are not paid for their work within the district.

As stipulated under Administrative Policy B-01, each board member may receive compensation of up to $50 per day for attending meetings and serving the school district through various responsibilities. Total compensation per member, however, may not exceed $4,800 per year. The money will come from local excess levy funds and “shall not cause the state to incur any present or future funding obligation.”

Mercer Island City Council members receive $200 per month while the mayor gets $400.

During their Sept. 27 meeting, board members decided to further discuss the compensation plan and refine details before voting on the proposal.

Board member Lisa Strauch Eggers, who has three children, pointed out that the proposal would help those members who juggle parenting responsibilities with board duties.

“This would definitely help with childcare — paying for babysitters while members attend meetings,” added board member Pat Braman.

All members of the board, with the exception of Braman, whose children are grown, have children attending MISD schools. In addition, many members — both in the past and present — work full time.

On average, School Board President Leslie Ferrell devotes 10 to 15 hours a week to the job, she said, adding that the time commitment fluctuates throughout the year.

“There have been weeks where we put in 40 hours of work,” Ferrell said.

“It is very difficult [to balance board responsibilities and parenthood] when you have two or three children going in different directions,” the mother of two added.

School Board meetings alone, which are held twice a month, can run up to three hours or more.

A board member is eligible to receive compensation for a number of district activities: attending regular or special meetings; serving as a designated representative of the board; attending board-approved training activities inside and outside of the district (i.e. regional, state or national conferences and the travel costs involved); attending special board-related activities when approved by the board in advance, such as retreats and ceremonies.

In addition, a board member may waive his monthly compensation at any time during his term.

The Washington State School Directors’ Association recently asked all of Washington’s 293 districts if their school board members received compensation. Out of the 187 districts that responded, 128 said they did not earn compensation and 59 said they did.

In addition to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Shoreline districts do not compensate their board members. Issaquah, Tahoma, Everett and Seattle do.

While the majority of MISB members favor compensation, John DeVleming said that he does not.

The board will re-address the subject at tomorrow’s meeting, at 7 p.m. Oct. 11 in the board room at the school administration building, 4160 86th Ave. S.E.

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