Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Board Benefits

Today's Tennessean reports that at yesterday's policy governance meeting we discussed the pay and benefits of being on the school board.

Board member Kay Brooks said she understands the need for a computer or a fax machine but would prefer to see a not-for-profit or community group step up and supply them. Currently, the district provides the equipment.

"I just can't agree with supplying that … I would say no," Brooks said. "We're still having to deal with the perception of the board taking it away from small children."

That 'it" being money.

Part of the problem in providing these items, as I've said before, is the comingling of personal and board business on the same equipment. I don't know of any way to do that cleanly and it seems best to not even go there.

When Ms. Warden expressed concern that people of means would be discouraged from running for the school board because they couldn't afford these tools I suggested that perhaps these tools could come from another source.

I was also fairly blunt in opining that anyone seeking a position on the school board ought to start with the understanding that they're adults and this is a serious responsibility. They ought to know that it will require these or similar tools and arrange for obtaining and maintaining them. No board member, or potential board member, should whine about not being able to communicate with the Central Office or other board members because tax payers didn't provide these tools.

What wasn't reported was that I announced that I will recuse myself from the vote on these benefits because I'm running for the office.


Anonymous said...

What do you think about providing subsidized health benefits to board members? This seems like an overly generous benefit for a part time position. I personally dont know of any part time position in the private sector that offer such a benefit.

Kay Brooks said...

Key phrase there--private sector.

It's no more overly generous for us than for the Metro Council. Both are considered part-time.

Anonymous said...

Can we blame Wal-Mart if you all switch to TennCare?

Kay Brooks said...


Anonymous said...

Well, I'm mixed on this. It is a job that requires communicating with the public, and I'd certainly rather have the communication and the expense than neither. And a board member shouldn't have to run over to central office everytime he or she needs a document. It is a time consuming job and it shouldn't be a financial burden for someone to keep up and be able to communicate. The thing that gets me is- if board members are to get cell phone accounts- why isn't there unlimited calling to avoid very expensive overages?? That seems like really bad planning by whomever got the phone contracts.

Board members should have access to the insurance but the cost should come out of the $14000 if they wish for it to.

With all the money spent on Bransford Avenue, I don't find the argument compelling that loaning a board member a cell phone or computer to a board member is taking away stuff from the kids, but having private organizations donate sounds good- so long as there isn't any quid pro quo. For example, since the Chamber of Commerce has a PAC and lobbies and evaluates the Board- they shouldn't give these items to board members.

Kay Brooks said...

But it's OK for the Chamber to give $5,000 to their endorsed candidates?

When I said community groups I sincerely meant 'community groups' like neighbors and parents. I can see that that may also be sticky. What I had in the back of my brain is the money that was raised in Inglewood several years back to buy a laptop for the police officers at Stratford so they could stay in communication with the precinct.

Just because that's chump change in the Central Office budget doesn't mean we shouldn't be careful about that amount of money.

I can't answer the question about the cell phone overages. I remember asking years ago why no one had just gotten them all Cricket accounts.

Anonymous said...

What I meant was...If a board member wants health insurance, it should come out of the $14K.

Kay Brooks said...

OK. That's pretty clear.

I have to assume that since 4 board members (Garrett, Harkey, Thompson & Warden) are availing themselves of the health insurance (and who knows how many councilmen) this benefit may be the one that really attracts people to take on this 'part-time' job. That wasn't my motivation but it's something to consider.