In an effort to encourage citizens to serve on the Washougal School Board, president Ron Dinius has proposed the idea of potential compensation.
According to state guidelines, School Board members have the right to be compensated for financial hardships associated with the position if there is a policy in place. Currently, Washougal has no such policy.
“We have had this policy in place before and no board members have ever taken it,” Dinius said. “But (four) positions are up for election this (November). I am trying to encourage other community members to run, and having a policy in place might encourage that.”
The longtime School Board member noted that being on the board often requires attending long meetings and devoting several hours to preparation in order to understand the various situations which impact education. In order to attend meetings, those with young children may need to find a babysitter or take unpaid time off of work.
The proposed policy would limit compensation to $4,800 per year, per board member. The money would come from local levy funds.
“If it puts a hardship on them, this would help compensate for it,” Dinius said. “I would like the board to consider having a resolution in place.”
If the board adopts a discretionary compensation policy, it would require a resolution before payments would be available to members.
Board member Teresa Lees said the stipend should be paid out to everyone on the board, and they could decide what to do with the money.
“I don’t think this is a bad idea, but the community will know if you take it or if you don’t,” she said. “It goes both ways. If you offer the money, it should be guilt free. If you are a baseball coach here, they don’t give you a choice. They don’t say, ‘You can have it, or leave it for the schools.’ If you are going to offer it, give it to everyone.”
Lees, who has six children in Washougal schools, was recently appointed to fill a vacant position on the board.
“I agree that we should be reimbursed for conferences and travel, but this is a volunteer position,” she said. “I took the job knowing that.”
Board member Karen Rubino noted that the policy should be put back in place, with the option of a resolution at a later time.
“If there is someone out there who would do this, who couldn’t otherwise, then we should do this,” she said. “Putting the policy in place is just the first step.”