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Delegation won't request school board pay increase

February 15, 2002

Delegation won't request school board pay increase



Annapolis

By LAURA ERNDE
laurae@herald-mail.com


Washington County School Board members won't get a pay raise next year.

After waiting two months for a specific salary proposal from Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, Washington County lawmakers pulled the plug on the request Thursday shortly after receiving it.

Morgan suggested that school board members' salaries be increased from $4,800 to $10,000. At the same time, school board members would forego a $1,500 expense allowance.

But local delegates said Thursday they were uncomfortable with a pay raise for school board members because it contradicts the findings of an independent study commission.

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The fact that Morgan's request didn't arrive until last Friday, one-third of the way into the legislative session, was another strike against it, they said.

"All things considered we felt it would be best left alone this year," said Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington. "There just doesn't seem to be a groundswell of support."

A newly elected delegation can take up the issue next year, said Delegation Chairman Del. Robert A. McKee, R-Washington.

Two school board members said they were surprised that delegates rejected the request after they had encouraged Morgan to submit a proposal.

"It's quite an interesting turn of events," said Bernadette Wagner.

"I believe the delegation was encouraging and supportive regarding this," Roxanne Ober said.

Ober and Wagner said the salary should be beefed up to attract quality candidates for public service.

The legislation would not have affected their salaries this term, but could have affected the three school board members to be elected in November.

Putting off the decision until next year means that those elected in November won't be eligible for a raise until 2006. The four members elected in 2004 could get the raise at the beginning of their term.

Delegates haven't taken a formal vote on the salary issue. Instead the six chose to discuss it informally among themselves on the House floor Thursday.

The delegation's two senators were not in Annapolis Thursday. Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, attended the funeral of Hagerstown attorney Kenneth Mackley and Sen. Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick/Washington, was at home recovering from an eye irritation.

The Washington County Salary Study Commission said $4,800 is comparable with the pay of school boards in similar-sized counties across the state.

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