$20K raise proposed for SCS board members - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

$20K raise proposed for SCS board members

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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When the late Memphis civil rights legend Maxine Smith was first elected to the Memphis City Schools board in 1971 it is said she never asked how much the job paid.

Yet, she stayed for 24 years because she cared deeply about children being educated.

You didn't have to buy her loyalty to the job, but, some members of the Shelby County Commission apparently think it's time to pay for what Smith would have done for free.

MORE: $20K pay hike recommended for SCS board members

At the AFSCME Local 1733 union hall downtown, the phones were still ringing off the hook Thursday.

"It was past shocking, and because we're on television, I don't even have a word I can use," said AFSCME Local 1733 executive director Gail Tyree.

Across town at the office of the Memphis Education Association the anger among area teachers was subdued but nothing short of bitter.

"Remember, teachers received absolutely no increase this year," said Keith Williams, MEA President. "As a matter of fact, we lost money. Our insurance skyrocketed, wages flattened. So, we lost seven percent."

If, as they say, timing is everything, the reactions to a preliminary vote to raise the salaries of Shelby County Schools board members $20,000 more than their current $4,200 a year positions, would indicate some Shelby County commissioners have picked a terrible time to express a controversial show of gratitude.

Even school board member Kevin Woods admits the possibility of a potential raise wasn't why he campaigned for the position.

"We have not asked for any pay increases," Woods said. "We signed on for a tough job we knew only paid $4,000. We were prepared to take on those responsibilities. I think we've done that."

However, considering thousands of positions, from teachers to custodial workers and bus drivers were chopped from the school system to offset a $75 million deficit to begin the school year, the commissioners move to reward those in positions, that have  always been regarded as part-time service, is regarded as insulting to those former employees now on the outside looking in.

"You can't give the people that's the working man, hard working people, five-percent or for that matter $2 an hour," Tyree said. "They're cleaning the schools, they're cooking the food."

In a system where employees, specifically teachers, are evaluated on their skills and effectiveness in a classroom, some feel higher-paid SCS board members should come under similar scrutiny.

"Where is the effectiveness measure in place for this?," Williams said. "Teachers are evaluated based on performance and pay based on that, certainly the leadership should be."

"I think the public gets to evaluate us by keeping us in office or sending us home," Woods said. "So, we're evaluated every time we make a decision. I'm making this commitment right now to you is that, if they do give an increase to the school board's salary, I'll be donating my salaries to the local PTA's until we can find a way to put more money in teachers' pockets."
"It shouldn't be a seat in the building," Tyree said. "Matter of fact, there shouldn't be a seat on main when they come up with this vote."

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