HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The Horry County School Board is one vote away from giving itself a raise. Each board member's pay will go up more than $6,000 if it passes. There's one board member who hasn't weighed in: an illness kept John Poston from attending the early February meeting where the raise was voted on for the first time. Had he been there, Poston would've been the fourth vote against the raise.
"The current compensation package for the school board is more than adequate for the service that we do. There are some other outlets that have run time involved," Poston said. "Most of us are spending in the neighborhood of about ten hours a week on school board stuff."
Poston said the focus of this board shouldn't be on its own pay. "I did not run for the school board thinking of it as a job," he said. "I ran because of the interest I had in it."
Poston went as far to say a school board member can do the job without compensation. There are 30 districts across the state that do not pay school board members. But he does say the pay helps him do more for his district. Poston was the only school board member to vote against the $300 monthly travel stipend in 2011.
The move to tie the board's pay to Horry County council wasn't an idea that was ever brought to Poston.
Poston said the plan "makes no sense. Who was the motion offered by, Mr. Cox, I think you'd have to ask Mr. Cox that question."
Chairman Joe Defeo says higher board pay will encourage more people to run for the office. Poston said there is a different solution: remove party affiliation.
"I think if you get away from that, you'll get a different pool and possibly increase that pool, or, and I don't know if we want to do this because it would focus representation, we could get away from the council-level districts that we serve and get more to an attendance area board seat."
In fact, Lee County was the only other county in the state to attach a party affiliation to the school board seat elections in 2016. Poston actually came closer to running for the chair position than anyone during the last two election cycles. He filed to run on March 16 of 2016, then wrote a letter dated the next day to the Horry County Republican Party Chairman, asking to withdraw his candidacy and run for his District Eight seat. He told us he quickly realized the campaign was going to be a referendum on the school building program already underway.
"The campaign was going to get expensive. It was going to get funding things on both sides, pro or con, and they were going to fund things in that campaign about that issue, and that's not what I wanted that to be about," Poston said.
He went back to running for the District Eight seat and won.
Monday's meeting starts at 6 p.m. By law, the board must wait another week before voting on its raise again, so that vote can't happen tonight. There is a public comment section during Monday's meeting - that's not something that was allowed earlier this month when the board voted on the raise for the first time.