School Committee Seeks Raise, Would be First Increase Since 2008

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A lot of money was raised and spent on the 2015 Watertown Election.

The Watertown School Committee voted to request a pay raise for its members on Monday night, and the increase would not take effect until the next term.

The pay hike would be from $3,200 a year to $4,500 a year, but the request must first be approved by the Town Council.

The request came because School Committee members who have to find childcare during meetings say the pay does not cover that cost.

“After everything is taken out, we get less than $200 a month,” said School Committee member Lily Rayman-Read. “The cost of child care for multiple meetings (each month) is more than that.”

The School Committee has not had a salary hike since 2008. A subgroup of the School Committee looked at what other towns pay their School Committees, and found a wide range.

“Salaries ranged from $100 to $6,500 in Woburn where $2,000 was a travel stipend,” said Town Council President Mark Sideris, who also sits on the School Committee.

School Committee member Lindsay Mosca noted that it was difficult to find information on many districts, particularly those inside Rte. 128.

School Committee Chairman John Portz did some calculations of compound increases if the salary went up 2 percent and 2.5 percent each year and found that with 2 percent the total would be about $4,000 and with 2.5 percent it would be about $4,200.

Portz said that he was thinking he might recommend a salary lower than $4,500. He added that the expectations for School Committee members has increased over the last several years.

“Four months a year we meet twice,” Portz said. “That was not the case five years ago. And we do meet in the summer more.”

Sideris added that School Committee members also attend more subcommittee meetings, too.

School Committee member Eileen Hsu-Balzer said even with the increase the amount still will not be a large amount of cash.

“No one runs for School Committee to get rich, or if they do they are misguided,” Hsu-Balzer said. “However, if someone does not run for School Committee because of the cost, that would be sad.”

The decision had to be made at the meeting, Sideris said, because any raise must be approved within the first 18 months of the term, which ends on June 30, 2019. Also, the proposal must be on the Town Council’s agenda twice in June, Sideris said, before it could approved. If not done now, the next time the School Committee could vote on it would be January, and the raise would not take effect until 2022.

The School Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Town Council approve a pay increase for the committee to $4,500. The raise would take effect at the beginning of the next term, which begins Jan. 1, 2020.

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