Maryland General Assembly Delegate Eric Luedtke is proposing a new salary commission for Montgomery County Board of Education members. The five-person commission would review the Board’s pay every four years and make a salary recommendation to be approved by the state legislature, which would introduce a bill to enact any stipend changes.
Salaries for county council and state legislature members are currently set by commissions. Luedtke believes that a similar commission for the Board would provide a “rational and regular process” to determine when changes in the member’s salaries are necessary.
The purpose of the commission is to ensure that board members are adequately compensated for their work. The proposed bill would also allow residents to have a say in the Board’s pay. “Salaries for elected officials should be based on careful review after a public process that allows for input by county residents. This bill would ensure that,” Luedtke said.
Montgomery County’s school board is currently the highest paid in Maryland. Members are paid $25,000 per year and the board president is paid $29,000. The student member of the board is also awarded a $5,000 scholarship. The proposed commission would carefully review these numbers when crafting salary recommendations.
Although being a board member is considered a part-time job, members of the Montgomery County Board of Education easily work more than 20 hours each week. They balance meetings, emails, and school visits as they make decisions on how to allocate the county’s education budget.
Because the job requires a significant amount of time and effort, Luedtke thinks maintaining an adequate salary for board members will encourage more qualified people to run for the school board.
“Board of Education members put in a lot of hard work, and a lot of hours, and that tends to take people away from their families and their careers,” Luedtke said. “We want the best and brightest to run for these positions, and making sure we provide an adequate stipend is one way to help ensure that they run.”
The commission would also widen the otherwise limited range of people who are willing and able to run for the Board. “The alternative is a vastly smaller pool of people who can run—retirees, stay at home parents, and people who are independently wealthy enough to afford any loss of income from their other career,” Luedtke explained.
If the proposed bill is approved, the salary commission will release its first salary recommendation by September 1, 2019.
Article by MoCo Student staff writer Anna Chen of Richard Montgomery High School