State Senator Todd Gardenhire (R-Chattanooga) announced that he is filing legislation calling for pay equity for school board members in Tennessee. The legislation requires that pay and benefits for school board members be set at the same rate provided to individuals serving on the local governing body.
He said, “Serving on the board of a school district is a huge responsibility and time commitment that comes with making a variety of complex, difficult and weighty decisions.
These members are expected to attend meetings, serve on committees, meet with the public, and maintain a wide breadth of knowledge on the issues they face as a board. In order to take on the commitment, members must make significant personal and professional sacrifices. Currently, many of our school boards in Tennessee are not fairly compensated. This legislation seeks to bring pay equity to these board members for the critical work that they do for the future of our students, communities and state.”
Currently, Tennessee law requires school board members be compensated at least $3 per meeting, with the governing body having the final say on how much is paid above that minimum amount. Several local school districts in Tennessee already set the rate of pay for school board members to be equal to the pay that the local governing body members receive. However, the majority of school boards are paid at a much lesser rate. This includes Hamilton County, where county commissioners receive approximately $25,394 per year plus benefits, as compared to the approximately $12,365 per year received by school board members.
Senator Gardenhire said, “Most school board members work the same amount of time and sometimes longer hours than their counterparts on the local governing bodies. Our education budget is over half of the county’s total budget which shows the importance we place on giving our students a quality education. Yet, the school board members who chart the course to carry out that mission receive less than half of the compensation paid to our county commissioners who appropriate education funds. This needs to change and my bill will put parity and fairness into the system.”