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Total Madness in Montgomery County

There is a group of people out there who think that Board of Education members should make more than members of the General Assembly. And you won’t be surprised to learn that this proposal is coming from Montgomery County, as Bethesda Magazine reports:

The Board of Education Compensation Review Commission announced during a hearing with the county’s state delegation on Monday night that school board members should be paid $60,000 annually for their work overseeing the state’s largest school district. Board members currently receive $25,000, aside from the president, who receives $29,000, and the student member, who is awarded a $5,000 college scholarship.

“The recommendations have been guided primarily by the principle that the board should represent a wide range of experience and expertise found among residents of Montgomery County,” Commission Chair Jaye Espy said. “The commission believes that the current salary level is not reflective of the time and effort needed for a board member to fulfil [sic] their duties and responsibilities, nor of the type of work the board is called on to do.”

The compensation for Board of Education members is already ludicrous compared to other counties Board’s. In Anne Arundel County, board members get a stipend of $8,000 a year. The $25,000 salary for Montgomery County Board members is closer to that of the Anne Arundel County Council, which is in the high $30’s.

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Making Board of Education member salaries $60,000 would rocket them ahead of members of the General Assembly, who make $50,330. Their salary will actually be closer to that of the Senate President and Speaker of the House, who $65,371. Of course, Board of Education members meet relatively infrequently whereas members of the General Assembly work 90 days in a row.

What’s even wilder? Board members think that even $60,000 isn’t enough:

Rebecca Smondrowski and Karla Silvestre said they felt salaries should be closer to $100,000.

The compensation commission that proposed these salary hikes was the brainchild of House Majority Leader, former teacher, and union apologist Eric Luedtke. Yes, the same people pushing the Kirwan Commission recommendations are the same people who brought you this idea.

Want to know something obscene? The proposed salary for Board of Education members is higher than the starting salary of a Montgomery County Public School Teacher. And the salary that Board members Smondrowski and Silvestre think they deserve? That’s more than the all but the most experienced Montgomery County teachers make.

There is no reason to pay Board of Education members $60,000 a year. At all. Not even legislators make that much money, and they give up a lot more serving in Annapolis for 90 consecutive days. The idea of serving on the Board of Education is not that service is a full-time position but that it is a part-time position while still being a member of the community. There is nothing precluding people who are not “retirees or independently” wealthy from serving on the Board. It’s just that politicians like to tout how important they are, and a high-dollar salary for serving in a part-time position will help not just fill somebody’s bank account but also give them the ego boost they clearly crave.

There is no universe at all where Board of Education members should make more than a teacher. And the Compensation Commission and its patron Eric Luedtke should have to explain to the public why they think paying this much to part-time public servants is acceptable.

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