Modesto board raises its pay, but few take it

09/23/2013 3:47 PM

09/23/2013 7:11 PM

The Modesto City Schools board raised its members’ pay back to $750 a month at its Sept. 9 meeting, but three of the seven members declined the added $61.25 a month, and a fourth will give it to charity.

“I voted with the rest of the unanimous board to restore the compensation. Since being elected, I have donated my entire salary to local charities. I plan to do the same with the restoration amount,” board member Amy Neumann said via email. She listed charities she sent the donations to, including the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County, the Salvation Army, her church and the PTA at her children’s school.

The three who have refused the addition are running for re-election this year.

Board Vice President Cindy Marks said she would not take the extra amount, but voted to reinstate it for members who feel the pinch from board duties. “For some members in the past, the reduction in the stipend has been a hardship,” Marks said.

Sue Zwahlen and Rubén Villalobos also said they would turn down the higher pay. “I just think there are better ways we could be spending that money,” Villalobos said.

Board members voted to reduce their own pay as the district employee groups took cuts in 2010-11. Salaries were restored for this year.

Steve Grenbeaux and Stacie Morales said board pay should return as well. “I have always believed when everyone takes cuts, we take them together, and when they are restored, they are restored together,” Morales said.

Being a board member comes with costs, said Board President Nancy Cline. “What the public might not realize is how often board members are invited to events which incur out-of-pocket expenses for them. We want to represent our district by attending, but some of us are limited to how many of these events we can afford to attend.”

Cline, who decided to not run for re-election this year, said the change will not mean much money for her. “I’m retiring, but for whomever replaces me, I value the commitment they are making, a commitment of time and reputation, and feel they are worth every penny of that stipend,” she said.

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