Davidson County school board members to receive additional money after change in pay scale deemed illegal

Two Davidson County School Board members will be getting an end-of-year “bonus” after it was determined that a recent decision to change their pay rate was against state law.

On June 13, the Davidson County Board of Commissioners voted to approve an increase in the monthly stipend for school board members after receiving a request from both Davidson County Schools and Lexington City Schools.

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The county commissioners decided to change Davidson County Schools to $400 a month for board member and $450 a month for the board chairman instead of paying them per meeting.

In the past, school board members have been $120 per meeting and the board chair received $150 per meeting. They were requesting to increase this to $150 per meeting for board members and $180 per meeting for the chair and vice chair.

Since the vote by the county commissioners, staff learned school board members’ pay cannot be reduced during their term per North Carolina General Statute. It was discovered that two Davidson County School Board members had earned more than $450 per month on average over the course of the past two years. One member earned $5,760 in 2021 and one earned $5,700 in 2022.

More: Davidson County Commissioners approved pay raise for local school board members

To stay within NC General Statute requirements, county commissioners decided to keep the school board pay schedule as approved, but to give the two board members affected “true-up” payments at the end of the year to make up the difference.

“The law states an elected officials cannot have pay reduced (involuntarily) while still in office, so the “true up” payment on month twelve gets each of those two elected officials equal to the highest annual pay each received over the last two years,” said Davidson County Manager Casey Smith.

The two board members will receive this payment with their last paycheck of the year. One member will receive an additional $300 and the other will receive an additional $960 with their monthly payment. This will bring their current yearly total to their previous yearly incomes.

No other school board members were affected by the change in pay amount as they did not previously make more than $400 a month.

This modification will be made twice at the end of the year until Dec. 2024 when the two members affected by the General Statue complete their terms. At that time, the pay plan will revert back to the plan originally approved by the Board of Commissioners on June 13, which is $400 a month per board member and $450 a month for the Chairman.

More: Lexington City School Board candidate files protest over alleged voting irregularities with Davidson County Board of Elections

The Davidson County School Board consists of five members who serve four-year terms. Two of five seats on the Davidson County school board are up for at-large general election on Nov. 3.

Several commissioners stated at the June 13 meeting that changing Davidson County Schools to monthly instead of per meeting would make all three school systems on the “same level” and “uniform” as far as how they were paid. Both Lexington and Thomasville City Schools are paid monthly.

Commissioners also stated that Davidson County Schools deserved more money because the district is larger than Lexington and Thomasville.

Lexington City Schools had requested a pay raise of $400 a month for board members and $450 for the board chairman. Previously, they were paid $200 a month. The county commissioners approved $300 a month for board members and $350 for the board chairperson.

Thomasville City School system, who was not present at the meeting and did not request a pay increase for the school board, received an increase for its school board members at $300 a month and $350 for the chairman.

General news reporter Sharon Myers can be reached at sharon.myers@the-dispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter @LexDispatchSM.

This article originally appeared on The Dispatch: Change in pay rate for Davidson County School Board deemed illegal