Central board salary removal binding, unless…

Central High School Board members heard Monday night that the action at the annual meeting to remove their salaries is binding, unless it is reversed at another meeting of the electorate.

It’s not clear under what conditions such a meeting could be called, however.

chs-logoDistrict administrator Scott Pierce said a meeting could be called if the district received a petition that represented a specific percentage of the people that voted in the Nov. 2008 presidential election. What percentage was not certain.

But board President Mary Ellen Piersall said she believes calling a meeting would be legal if the board simply received a significant response from residents that they were concerned about the issue.

“We have the right to call the meeting if people come to us,” Pearsall said.

The measure to eliminate board salaries passed at the annual meeting by a one-vote margin. At the time, it was not clear if the vote was even binding.

Subsequently, Pierce said, the district learned that the annual meeting action is binding, unless it is reversed at another meeting of the electorate.

Some board members used the discussion as a platform to express their opinion on the subject.

Said Pearsall:

“To actually pay everyone but the board who make the decisions is a huge devaluation of our jobs. … I’m saddened about what I think is going to happen to the board. … It was a very big slap in the face.”

Board member Cheryl Baysinger used the topic to say she would not be able to run for another term without the pay:

“In the last six years, I have spent a lot of time and energy in becoming a good board member. I don’t think I’ll be able to run for another term because I’ll have to get a part-time job. … I have no intention of resigning; I’ll fill out my term.”

Board member Don Kurtz defended his vote in favor of removing the salaries:

“I wasn’t aware there was a salary when I got this position. It hasn’t made a difference since. I’m here to make a difference.”

The following annual salaries were set for board members at last year’s annual meeting:

  • President, $2,400.
  • Vice president, $2,400.
  • Treasurer, $2,400.
  • Clerk, $2,400.
  • Members, $2,180.

Members who served on the negotiating team received an additional $680.



  1. Darrel Damon says:

    To the Board of Education, Central High School:

    I read with interest the article in West of the I regarding Central school board salaries. The article makes it clear that the reason for the motion to reduce salaries was not clearly understood. Since I made the initial motion to amend salaries, please let me take this opportunity to once again explain the reasoning for the amendment I offered.

    First, I did not make the motion lightly. It was not and is not, as reported in the article, a “slap in the face”. I am truly sorry that some of you may feel that it was. There was nothing personal in the motion. The motion was and is simply a call to reality based on the economic conditions that we are in. In this time of salary reductions and benefit erosion across all sectors of the economy, is it really that hard to understand that everyone must make sacrifices, even school board members?

    I served on the Salem Board of Education for a number of years, the last few of which were under reduced or no salary. As a matter of fact, I was the one who made the first ever motion to reduce board salaries when I saw early signs of the times we now find ourselves in. I know exactly how much time and effort is required of a board member to do his or her job right. This motion at Central in no way tried to make light of the job any of you do. But I gladly accepted the reduction and elimination of my salary for a very simple reason – I was not there to collect a salary. I was there to fulfill my statutory requirements as a board member – to advocate for the education of our children. I truly believe that if a board member is there only because there is a salary attached to the job, then they are there for the wrong reason. I have considered running for a board position since I left the Salem board, but I have come to the conclusion that I would be there for the wrong reason, salary or not. I would be there to foster change, not for the primary focus of advocating for the education of our children. As such, I could not in good conscience run for the board. Therefore, I will not. Salary is never a consideration. I considered it a priviledge to serve and did not consider it my right to collect a salary. As Don Kurtz said, I did not even know that there was a salary when I was first elected.

    Right now, there is reportedly considerable time and effort being spent on researching how to get around the annual meeting vote. I ask the board as a whole to consider if they are spending their precious time discussing the right issues. Should you be discussing how to regain salaries? Or would time be better spent dealing with education issues?

    There are other boards in the state that serve with no salaries. Salem School District is one of those. They have been serving with no salary for several years. No one there makes a decision to run or not run for school board based on the salary they will or will not collect.

    In closing, I would ask that we all get past the politics of the personal. There was nothing personal in the initial motion. Ms. Pearsall’s comments in the article, if accurately quoted, would appear to imply that there was. That is indeed unfortunate and cannot benefit anyone in the community. It will only serve to polarize and divide the community in a time when we all need to pull together like never before in order to weather the harsh economic realities that we find ourselves in.

    Please consider carefully the message that is being sent to the community at large before you make any decisions regarding this issue.


    Darrel Damon

  2. Barb Ingram says:

    In response to Mr. Damon’s comments, he has some valid points, but unfortunately doesn’t see the whole picture. I have been in public service, serving the residents of Paddock Lake as a trustee. No one gets into these positions for the salary, they want to serve the residents and students that they were elected to represent. The issue with the salary of a public official is such that it was instituted to offset personal expenses that can be incurred due to serving in the office. The expenses that come out of the members own pocket. What expenses? The gas that is spent to drive to/from numerous meetings and conventions, some as far away as Madison. The meals that are needed when away on board business, like the conventions. That can become quite costly, especially with the economy the way it is. Some board members have to travel quite a ways to get to the numerous monthly meetings. Example; 17 miles one way, 34 miles round trip. For some vehicles that is at least 2 gallons of gas, at todays prices that is over $5.00. Times that by 2-6 meetings a month, that is $15.00/$30 or more, $180/$360 per year. When members are asked to travel to Madison for conventions, or out of the district, which is generally 3-4 times a year, they do have to eat. That again is usually out of their own pockets. A two-day convention could cost the member, breakfast, lunch and dinner x2 days anywhere from $25-$50.00. This miniscule stipend that these board members receive is to offset these expenses. Most if not all members have jobs outside of being on the board. Again with today’s economy, some people have to get part time jobs. If a member has to pay what could become a substantial amount out of his/her own pocket to serve on a board, it may influense someone in to not running for public office because they can’t afford it. Someone figured out with the stipend that they did receive and the number of hours that they put in for meetings, reading, and traveling etc that they actually receive a whopping $.35/hour. I know that some of the board members do not submit for reimbursement the mileage and meals that they incur, but now that the stipend has been taken away, they may have to, which in the long run, could end up costing the district MORE than the stipend they were paying in the first place. Think about that before penalizing these hard working board members.

  3. Darrel Damon says:

    Thank you, Ms. Ingram. You certainly bring a valid counterpoint to the argument. However, there is another piece of the picture. In addition to salary, the board members are also reimbursed for their expenses, which you mention. Therefore, should the member choose, they get a salary AND reimbursement for expenses.

    Please also know that the expenses you speak of are VOLUNTARY. No member is forced to attend meetings in Madison or elsewhere.

    Let me go on record as saying that when the economy improves, I will be one of the first, if not the first, to stand up and make a motion to restore salaries. But in this harsh economic reality with levies soaring, why should we ask taxpayers whose salaries are going down to keep giving more?

    Last comment – like the board members, your last sentence tries to spin this as a penalty assessed against the board. Please delete that from your thinking. This is not a penalty – it is the right thing to do. I motioned for and voted for my own salary decrease when I was on the Salem BOE. I don’t just talk to the talk – I walk the walk as well.

  • Follow us on

  • Archives