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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

August 28, 2013 at 6:58 AM

Legislating pay for school-board members

Open board to all economic classes

Thanks to The Times for highlighting the issue of pay for school-board members; thanks also to Sen. Reuven Carlyle for championing legislation mandating pay for school-board directors. [“Would pay for school-board members ease the misery?” NW Sunday, Aug. 25.]

However, in my opinion, Emily Heffter’s article, though informative, leaves out the most important reason to pay school board directors more than per diem.

People of modest means who have passion, intelligence and a commitment to K-12 education simply cannot afford to serve on the school board. Because of the requirement of time, the nature of their work and the cost of living, they cannot make the financial sacrifice to accommodate up to 30 hours of school-board activity in a week.

Thus, the people who serve on school boards tend to be comfortably ensconced in middle-class life — for example, they are likely to be homeowners. Although such individuals (including myself) represent a wide range of stakeholders, I believe this economic reality is a barrier to representation from lower socio-economic levels and/or groups that are historically disenfranchised.

That’s why I strongly favor having the option of paying people to serve on school boards. Service on the board of a large, urban district such as Seattle demands a vast amount of time, energy, and focus. I believe we need to facilitate that quality of service from representatives of the widest possible array of constituents.

Marty McLaren, Seattle Public Schools District 6 board director, Seattle

Comments | More in Economy, Education, Seattle | Topics: education, representation, school board members

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