LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The seven members of L.A. Unified’s school board got the kind of news most working people can only dream of. They were awarded a 175 percent pay raise by an independent city commission Tuesday.

Board members who don’t have another day job got a raise from $45,637 to $125,000 a year. Those who get paid for another outside job and do their school board work on the side went from $26,437 to an even $50,000 a year.

USC Education Professor and Associate Dean at the Rossiter School of Education Lawrence Picus is an expert on the finances of public school education. He says for the amount of work L.A. Unified School Board members are expected to do, a $125,000 salary may not be out of line, given the headaches and challenges that go along with the job.

But Picus says the question shouldn’t be asking if the pay is too much.  “Really the question is: ‘should they be paid at all?'” Picus says.

Professor Picus is not alone. The nation’s two other largest school systems seem to agree.

In New York and Chicago, the nation’s second and third largest school districts, board members are appointed by their mayors and work for free.

Professor Picus says board members should make the big decisions and leave the day-to-day decisions to the superintendent.

“And if it’s not managed properly they should terminate the superintendent and hire somebody new, but they shouldn’t micromanage.”

Because the LAUSD is so large and complex the thinking is the board members need the time to spend in their districts and resources to understand their constituents. The thought is that $125,000 will free up board members to devote all their time to LAUSD.


  1. John Stump says:

    If you believe that only those of independent wealth or in the employ of special interests should serve on such Boards, then you will object to fair compensation.

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