It becomes more apparent every day that it is time to compensate the members of Idaho’s school boards.
In the Blaine County School District’s next budget, the board of trustees should include compensation for trustees, put the money in a separate account, then seek a court opinion as to whether the payments are legal.
Officials elected to other public boards, including county commissioners and city council members, are compensated for their work. In Blaine County, some are compensated handsomely.
Yet, the people responsible for what is arguably the most important function of government, the one that receives the highest share of local property taxes, receive nothing for their time.
The problem with no compensation in a nation and state in which 62 percent of the population is in the workforce is obvious. Without
compensation, the majority of people who could serve cannot otherwise afford to reduce their time at work or time caring for their families.
The consequences of the failure to compensate school boards show up every time there is a vacancy on the board, to which a member is appointed and not elected. This deprives the public of debate about education operations.
Consequences show up in elections with only a single candidate for each board seat, which leaves voters with no choice of skills among candidates. They also show up in difficulties in getting a board quorum because of sometimes sporadic meeting attendance.
Education today is complex. No two school districts are alike. No two students are alike. The definition of a “good” education can be elusive. Managing a school district means managing political pushes and pulls from groups with contrary interests.
If local taxpayers want better school operations, they must face the fact that continuing to pay school board members nothing is unwise and unsustainable.