Atlanta school board gives preliminary approval for pay hikes for members

Atlanta Board of Education members listen as Superintendent Lisa Herring (left) talks after she being sworn in last year. (Hyosub Shin / AJC FILE PHOTO)
Atlanta Board of Education members listen as Superintendent Lisa Herring (left) talks after she being sworn in last year. (Hyosub Shin / AJC FILE PHOTO)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta school board members want to give a nearly 50% raise to whoever does their job on the panel next year.

The Atlanta Board of Education on Monday voted 8-1 on a preliminary proposal to increase the salary of elected officials from $15,170 a year to $22,500.

A final vote is expected June 7. The new pay rate would start in January, when a new board takes office. All nine board seats will be up for election this year.

Board members who pushed for higher salaries said more money would encourage a greater diversity of candidates to run for the position.

”There are people who are prohibited because of their circumstances in life from having the honor of sitting in one of these seats so, I think, increasing that makes it a little more doable for some who want to serve,” said Leslie Grant, who represents southeast Atlanta on the board.

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Last fall, a city compensation commission tasked with recommending salaries for the mayor, city council and school board suggested that school board member pay jump to $30,000.

Several school board members weren’t willing to go that far, settling at the $22,500 rate instead. The board chair and vice chair would earn slightly more.

”I think where we’ve landed is a fair place,” said Michelle Olympiadis, who leads the budget commission and represents east Atlanta.

Officials said the pending raises are equal to a 2% annual increase since the last time board members received a raise, about two decades ago.

The increase would push their pay to the higher end of those serving on metro Atlanta school boards.

Fulton County board members make $18,500, while their Gwinnett counterparts, who oversee Georgia’s largest district, made $15,608 at the start of this year.

Cobb’s school board salary is $19,000, and Clayton board members make $12,000. In DeKalb, the rate is $18,000 a year, plus a monthly stipend of about $450, according to the Georgia School Boards Association.

Atlanta school board member Nancy Meister, who represents north Atlanta, cast the only vote against the increase. She previously said she views the work as a public service and wasn’t comfortable with the size of raise.

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