With trustee Ed Bailey absent, board members voted 3-1 to raise the monthly stipend they currently receive from $252 a month to $260, roughly 3 percent more than they had been making. Trustee Steve Olson cast the dissenting vote.
Ellen Wheeler, the board's president voted in favor of the raise. "It just seemed equitable," Wheeler said, noting that the trustees hadn't opted for a raise since 2006 and that the teachers in the district were going to be given a 3 percent base pay increase this year as well.
After taxes, Wheeler estimated that the trustees will take home about $245 each month. The pay increase isn't about getting more money for herself, Wheeler said. But she argued that if the board continually voted down raising its pay, the stipend would never increase.
While the increase was nominal, Wheeler said it was important to regularly increase the position's pay; she didn't want to see the job of trustee become one only sought by those with higher incomes.
Olson said that he understood Wheeler's arguments in favor of raising the stipend, he felt that voting for such a minute increase was particularly pointless, in addition to the fact that "it never looks good when you vote to give yourself a raise."
"I respect the opinions of my colleagues," Olson said. "I felt it just didn't seem like a good time or a good message to send out."
The school district has recently made cuts to programs and allowed certain teachers' contracts to expire in an effort to save money.