DPS school board tables vote to up members’ pay to $33,000 a year

Denver’s school board voted Thursday to indefinitely postpone action on a measure that would have significantly increased how much money its members can earn for performing official duties, raising the elected body’s annual salary cap to $33,000 per person from $9,000.

Denver Public Schools’ Board of Education was among the first school boards in the state to approve pay for members following the passage of a 2021 state law allowing the compensation.

The seven-person board passed a resolution almost two years ago to pay members up to $150 per day for as many as five days per month — or a maximum of $9,000 annually — for official board duties, such as attending regular meetings, work sessions and retreats.

The new proposal, which was tabled, would have increased compensation to $150 per day for as many as five days per week and capped pay at $33,000 annually.

Elected school board positions are largely voluntary in Colorado. Supporters of paying school board members have said it will break down some of the barriers that could prevent people from joining their local boards.

Under state law, school board members can be paid no more than $150 per day for no more than five days per week and are only compensated when they perform official board duties. An increase in compensation cannot happen during a member’s term.

So while five current DPS school board members are eligible to receive compensation under the 2021 resolution, those directors wouldn’t be eligible for the increase in pay under the proposed new policy unless they are reelected when their terms end.

The members now eligible for compensation are directors Xóchitl “Sochi” Gaytán, Scott Esserman, Carrie Olson, Michelle Quattlebaum and Charmaine Lindsay, all of whom began their current terms after the 2021 resolution was adopted.

Yet those directors are not currently being paid because the district is still developing a process to compensate them, board spokesman Bill Good said. Once that’s finalized they will be eligible for backpay, he added,

Four of the directors’ terms end in 2025. Lindsay’s term will end later this year; she was appointed last year to fill a vacant seat on the board.

Directors Scott Baldermann and Auon’tai Anderson — both of their terms end later this year — aren’t currently eligible to be paid for their board duties because they were elected before the 2021 policy was passed. But if the board had passed the proposed wage increase, they could have received up to $33,000 annually if they are reelected in the fall.

Anderson already has announced he’s running for his at-large seat again. Baldermann has not yet announced whether he’ll seek reelection.

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