Future NSD board members will receive financial compensation

by Kevin Opsahl | reporter@nwnews.com

Future members of the Northshore School District (NSD) Board of Directors will be able to choose to receive up to $4,800 for fulfilling their duties each year.

On Jan. 9, the current board unanimously approved a resolution allowing the compensation, consistent with procedure outlined in state statute.

With the board’s decision, Board President Jacqueline McGourty made clear to the public that the resolution that passed does not impact the current board.

“This board currently receives no compensation, and that does not change with the passage of this resolution,” McGourty said. “We have no authority to change that.”

The Washington Constitution prohibits municipal officers from increasing their own compensation during their current terms of office.

But the Legislature can. Within the last decade, some lawmakers have attempted, but failed, to increase school board members’ compensation, which would make them some of the highest paid in the country.

Northshore School District Board Director Sandy Hayes made clear that the compensation for future board members is not automatic; they will have to apply for it.

But for now, Monday’s resolution, recommended by Interim Superintendent Michael Tolley, offered the chance for board members to have a discussion on the significance of future members’ compensation.

“At least for myself, the hope with this is that it is a small step that will increase access and perhaps allow a broader representation of individuals in our community to be able to consider serving in this position,” McGourty said.

Hayes, laughing, chimed in that in her years on the board, no member has received compensation.

“We’re not getting rich off of this work,” she said.

She went on to say she agreed with McGourty that the board is right to think about future members and provide them the option to be compensated.

“It is time to change that practice [of not compensating board members],” Hayes said. “We know in the not too distant future that there will be people considering running, and we want to allow them to be able to pay for child care or transportation.”

Director Bob Swain agreed that it’s important to provide future board members a way to pay for more expenses associated with daily life. He added that many school board of directors, including Northshore’s have members who are retired.

“I would hope at least providing this option would encourage other people to run for the school board and participate,” Swain said.

He was hopeful that a more diverse set of candidates running would have an impact on future voters, as well.

Director Amy Cast noted that a coalition of school board members of color got together at the Washington State School Directors' Association conference and said that not providing members compensation is “a barrier” to being elected.

“That’s another reason for us to prepare this for future boards, because it can remove a barrier,” Cast said. “It’s one thing to do public service. It’s another thing you’d hate [to think it would] cost a person money.”

Hayes hoped the public did not send current board members emails complaining that in passing this resolution they're all giving themselves a salary, because this is not true.