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ONLY ON 3: Brunswick County School Board members approve raises for themselves, but is it legal?

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Brunswick County School Board members have a little extra cash in their pockets after passing this year's budget, or do they?

Their salaries have gone up nearly 26% in just two years while salaries for teachers continue to crawl. But there are now questions about whether the raises are legal.

In the last two years, school board members have given themselves raises to the tune of $2,400 for each board member and $2,700 for the board chair. But teachers have only seen a $500 raise in the same two years.

"I don't think it's fair,” parent Kim Eggleston said. “Because the teachers, they do a lot of work, and they have to put a lot of their own money back into the classroom.”

"That's really not good,” parent Rhonda Long said. “They should actually give the teachers a lot more money and more funding to the schools."

On top of their pay increases, board members receive $5,100 each year for travel expenses, six grand for the chair.

That totals $425 per month per board member, or about the cost of gas for a one-way trip all the way along I-40 to Barstow, California, each month.

"If we go out of town, like to Raleigh, for a seminar or training, then that's usually separate expense just because it's longer, a lot of mileage,” board member Catherine Cooke said. “But going around the county, this is a big county, and it's a lot of travel, so would say that's probably very much in par with what I spend anyway."

The budget also included a loss of nearly 25 teacher assistants due to a cut in state funding.

We asked Cooke if the board's extra money could be used elsewhere.

"I think we certainly could use it for something else, but I think it's very minimal what you are talking about,” Cooke said.

The amount of money spent on raises and travel for all board members and the board chair is more than $37,000 in the last two years. That's more than enough to pay the salary of one teacher assistant.

But is the raise for board members even legal?

"Our Board of Education salary and expenses are currently under statutory review by the board's attorney,” School board spokeswoman Jessica Swencki said.

Under state law, the "tax-levying authority" for a school board has the power to raise the pay of board members.

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And to know that one school

And to know that one school board member is also a top member of the sheriffs department who already makes 80+thousand a yr.

I cannot understand why

I cannot understand why local school board members (likewise, local government board members) need ANY significant travel budget. These people are so inept that they cannot make governing decisions and conduct processes without traveling all over the country to see how others do it?
The electors need to stand up and insist that these wasteful boondoggles cease (they cost us directly for every dollar spent!). Does anybody care that these people are blatantly spending our money for no return on investment?
I think Catherine Cook's statement "I think we certainly could use it for something else, but I think it's very minimal what you are talking about” is an abhorrent indication of her complete disregard for the taxpayers' dollars and demonstrates a lack of fiscal responsibility by justifying the spending of money because "it is too little to matter anyway".
Let's start requiring candidates to convince us of their honesty and fiscal responsibility (as a taxpaying peer) before we endorse them and vote them into office.

AMEN!

AMEN!

Not a Dime...

Not one member of this highly inept BOE deserves one dime more. In fact, most need to be shown the door.

Not a Penny

I agree guest00000. I can't believe that the BOE would do something like this when the teachers deserve this pay raise. I have a coworker that his wife has been teaching for many years and her pay is still the same. Well this only happens in good old brunswick county where people just sit back and talk. I hope the board spends this much needed money And when it runs out I am sure they will vote for another raise. MUST BE NICE!

What is the base salary?

This report could easily be more clear to me if it discloses the actual salaries involved. I would not mind a 100% raise if the total salary went from $100 to $200. But this report merely states that the board members "gave themselves raises to the tune of $2,400 for each board member". I had to do the math for myself and determine that the annual salary is $9,230. Oh, excuse me, that might be the salary BEFORE the raise, so now the salary is $11,630. Still not a lot of money, but of course the school board is only a part time job. Of course, I may be all wrong, and the writer could be referring to the entire salary being $2,700 and the raise was 26% of that amount. That's not the way it reads, but it's loosely written. It would be much simpler to TELL ME what the salary was before the raise, and the salary after the raise. That would help me decide for myself if the school board is underpaid or overpaid. Reporting changes as a percentage is always a good way to mislead a reader. Anyway, what's your point? That teacher salaries should be higher? Or that school board members ought to serve for less? Or something else?

Again, why are the

Again, why are the non-teachers getting larger raises than the teachers?

Brunswick County School Board

The Brunswick County School Board is extremely generous. Last week every one in the Brunswick County School System got a bonus. Now they have given them selves a raise. Only problem is the money belongs to the tax payers of the county.

Is there any one else they can give some money to?