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W-JCC School Board raises own pay by $2,000

The short, special-call meeting that followed the Williamsburg-James City County School Board’s regular one Tuesday night had one purpose: whether to grant board members a pay raise.

And with little discussion, the five-member board agreed to increase its annual pay by $2,000.

After Chairwoman Kyra Cook (Williamsburg) closed the W-JCC board’s regular meeting Tuesday night, Vice Chairwoman Holly Taylor (JCC Stonehouse) opened a special-call meeting with only the five elected members from JCC.

Within two minutes of Taylor’s opening gavel, Jim Kelly (JCC Jamestown) moved to raise their pay to $7,500 with $8,700 going to the chair.

The proposal passed unanimously — Taylor, Kelly, Sandra Young (JCC Berkeley), Jim Beers (JCC Roberts) and Lisa Ownby (JCC Powhatan) voted in favor.

“We put in a lot of hours into board development, meetings, committees, traveling,” Taylor said Thursday. “Benchmarking against other localities, our pay has been much lower.”

In neighboring York County, board members received $9,000 with an extra $1,200 for the chairman in 2016. York County had just over 12,500 students in 2016-17, about 1,100 more than W-JCC.

Each year since their last raise in 2005, W-JCC board members have received $5,500 annually with an extra $1,100 going to the chair person. Other benefits include cell phone service and reimbursement for mileage and home internet service.

“It should be noted that ... it has not been adjusted since 2005 and the county has had significant increase in both population and student enrollment since that time,” Kelly said at the meeting.

Ownby said Friday they also considered the School Board’s stipend compared to James City County Board of Supervisors and Williamsburg’s City Council.

In James City County, the Board of Supervisors chair is paid $10,800; vice chairman, $10,200; other members, $9,000. The new pay is on par with City Council’s — the mayor is paid $9,600 while council members see $7,200 each.

“It wasn’t something that I brought forward, I do believe that there is an equity issue — it’s not a salary, it’s a stipend,” Ownby said. “None of us is doing it for this stipend, but (the current stipend amount) doesn’t begin to cover the number of hours we put in.”

The new pay will take effect Jan. 1, 2018.

The board members decided at their Feb. 7 meeting to take advantage of the election year in which 40 percent of the seats are up for reelection — it is the only time they’re allowed to change their own pay.

The James City County portion of the board determines all seven members' pay because the board is a combination of elected and appointed officials, according to Virginia law. As an elected board, the maximum pay allowed by Virginia law is $25,000.

The funding for School Board salaries comes from the localities directly, and is not funneled through the division’s annual budget.

Williams can be reached by phone at 757-345-2341.

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