Horry County Schools hear public comment on potential school board pay raise

Horry County Schools hear public comment on potential school board pay raise

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - For the first time since the Horry County School Board made a push for its own raise, the public was able to weigh in on the matter. During a school board meeting on Monday night, five people came forward to express what they believe about the pay raise.

Each person used the maximum of four minutes to speak during the public comments portion of the meeting. Each one commented on concern of the proposed 66 percent school board pay raise.

The Horry County School Board Chair Joe Defeo is among those who board members who would like to see a raise.

A WMBF News Investigation found if that raise goes into effect – board chair Joe Defeo will be paid and additional $5,000 more – he's already the highest paid school board member in the state of South Carolina.

Sharon Pollard was the first one to speak before the school board. She said, "You want the high pay in the state but we aren't getting the results from a state level, a nation level and world level. This money can be used for other things, I have never heard of anyone getting a 66 percent raise. It's appalling, it's not about the children."

Pollard believes the school board is not living out the vision of what Horry County Schools stand upon, and asked them if it is really a world-class school system. She said, "In my opinion this school board has lost it, that 66 percent increase could be used in food services, or could be used in hiring another teacher."

One man started our his comments by saying his children or grandchildren do not even attend Horry County Schools. Thomas Heron's interest though began once he heard about this pay raise. He said, "I realized I don't know what you do, I don't know how much time you spend, the kind of hours you put in, I'm going to guess it's a lot but I don't really know, and I would blame that on the school board and the school system."

Heron requested better reporting to the people who live in Horry County and he recommended a State of the Schools Address to be put out to the public each year to better understand. He said, "Bottom line is, I don't know if you deserve a raise, and I don't know it because I don't have the facts and figures, and I need to get the facts and figures."

Dianne Peterson, another person who came forward, agreed and said, "I'm not saying you do or do not deserve a raise, just like that man said, he's right we don't have those facts in front of us to be able to say that." Peterson focused on investing in our teachers to help bring kids forward. She said, "I think let the public vote on it. We voted on ya'll here, we should then vote on that as well, thank you for your time."

The last two people who came forward said it's a civic duty to serve as a school board member and not just about money, and explained the concern to be paid, but to ensure it is just and fair to the residents who live in the area.

Board members took no vote during the meeting. Chairman Joe Defeo said the earliest they can vote is at next month's meeting after a board member puts it on the agenda.

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