Board to Bring Delegation into Pay Raise Talks

WINNSBORO – The Fairfield County School Board took the next step in achieving a pay increase during their April 21 budget work session, agreeing to invite the County’s local legislative delegation to the table for talks. How a local school board is compensated is, by state statute, determined by their local state representatives.

“I would love to have that conversation with our local representatives,” Henry Miller (District 3) said.

Board member Carl Jackson (District 5) questioned why there should be such a difference between compensation rates for Board members and County Council members, a question raised by Miller at the Board’s April 7 meeting.

“When you’re looking at it in terms of what we do and what other boards do, and one is being compensated one way and one is being compensated another way, and we’re all supposed to be serving the same people, why is there such a big difference?” Jackson asked. “We ought to treat all the same.”

Board compensation currently stands at $35 per meeting. County Council members receive a $15,000 a year base salary, with an additional $4,800 for the chairperson and $3,000 for the vice chairperson.

“I think there’s something wrong with that picture,” Jackson said.

Of the 81 school districts in the state, 31 offer no compensation. Of the 50 that do pay members, those range from as low as $25 per meeting (Florence 1) to $800 a month (Richland 2). For a complete list, see:

“I don’t know if $35 a meeting will be an incentive to get good folks to serve,” State Rep. MaryGail Douglas (D-41), who along with State Sen. Creighton Coleman will have to make the final call on a School Board pay raise, said. “I’m not saying pay them a salary, but people’s time has a value.”

Sen. Coleman said he would be willing to consider the possibilities of a pay increase.

“I told them I would be happy to sit down and take a look at things,” Coleman said, “but I think it’s a fine balance between protecting the taxpayers and attracting good people.”

Behavioral Services

Vernon Kennedy, Director of Fairfield Behavioral Health Services (FBHS), came before the Board during their work session to clear up what he said was a misconception about his organization. FBHS is seeking $60,000 in funding from the District again this year to help cover the cost of services offered in Fairfield County Schools.

“We are not a County organization,” Kennedy said. “We are a non-profit that gets funds from the County, our Board is appointed by the County, but we are a public non-profit.”

Kennedy said funds for FBHS also come from the state and federal governments, through grants, and from other organizations such as the School District.

Andrea Harrison (District 1) questioned the funding during the April 7 meeting and requested a financial breakdown of services provided by FBHS.

“We may have been advised previously that this was a budget shortfall on their part, which to me doesn’t necessarily constitute the School District being responsible,” Harrison said during the April 7 meeting. “Behavioral Health is a County entity.”

During last week’s work session, Kennedy said FBHS had lost some of its funding several years ago from the state and federal government and turned to the School District for assistance.

“We felt there was no other way to continue at least with the level of services we’ve been providing to the District for a number of years,” Kennedy said.

Responding to William Frick (District 6), who asked if this year’s $60,000 request was the same as in the last two budget years, Kennedy said, “Yes. It will allow us to hopefully continue services and maybe expand them as well.”


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