City Council tables school board raises

Published 11:14 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

On Monday, Franklin’s City Council discussed but took no action on a request from the city’s school board for a salary increase.

Board members are paid $2,560 annually, with the chairman receiving $4,050. The board, on Thursday, passed a unanimous resolution to request that City Council increase these salaries to $4,000 for board members and $5,000 for the chairman.

This would be the maximum amount allowed in the city’s charter. The board had previously considered asking for $5,000 for board members and $6,000 for the chairman, but doing so would have required the city to get approval from the General Assembly to amend its charter.

The City of Franklin offers one of the lowest salaries for school board members in the Western Tidewater region, and still would even if the new rates were adopted. Southampton County, by comparison, offers $5,000 to board members and $5,300 to the chairwoman. Isle of Wight County also offers $5,000 to board members with the chairman receiving $6,000. Surry County offers board members $5,000 with the chairperson receiving the same, and the City of Suffolk offers board members $10,000, with the chairperson receiving $12,000.

When it came time for the council to discuss the school board’s request, Councilman Greg McLemore said he felt the raise was premature and that if the school division had extra money in its budget for raises, that money should be spent on the children instead.

Councilman Linwood Johnson, on the other hand, commended the school board for its effort in getting all three of the city’s schools accredited this school year, and said he felt they should be rewarded.

Councilman Benny Burgess agreed that the raise was premature, saying he would like to see more of a track record.

Vice Mayor Barry Cheatham clarified that if the council approved the raise, it would not come from this year’s school funding, but rather next year’s. He added that the raise did not mean that council would increase the schools’ budget next year.