No salary cut for school board

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 7, 1998

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / March 7, 1998

RESERVE – St. John the Baptist Parish School Board members refused tosecond Matthew Ory’s motion, which requested that board members salaries be cut 50 percent.

Ory’s reason for making the motion is that the school board is “overpaid by at least 75 percent,” he said.

He discovered that school board members could be paid by either an expense allowance basis or a per meeting basis.

If the school board opts for the per meeting basis the members are paid $50 a meeting and can’t be paid for over 144 meetings a year, which is 12 meetings a month. St. John School board averages two to three meetings amonth.

If a board decides to go on an expense allowance basis each member is paid $800 a month and the board president is paid $900.

St. John School Board members are paid by the expense allowance method.If they were paid $50 a meeting, they would average about $108 a month because meetings are usually held every two weeks.

Ory said he gives much of his salary to the schools and believes other board members should be just as generous.

“I’m already giving half of my salary to the schools, I just want everyone to do it,” Ory said. “I’m afraid some of the board members are in it for themoney.””Select a school and help them by giving money there, but don’t force it on someone else,” board member Clarence Triche said, adding that he already gave a large portion of his salary to school programs.

Along with Triche, the rest of the board members disagreed, and one accused Ory of platforming for votes in the upcoming election.

“I hope this board table has not become a platform for collecting votes,” board member Leroy Mitchell said. “I hope we don’t go through six monthsof turmoil trying to do what we didn’t get done in the last two-and-a-half years.”Ory said that isn’t true. “I feel like I’m being accused of trying to run acampaign from the board table,” Ory said.

Other board members said their hard work warrants their salaries.

“The school district is getting their money’s worth out of me,” board member Gerald Keller said.

Board member Dowie Gendron said that in his past campaign brochures he stated that he would earn his salary and accept it. “I have done that,” hesaid.

Board member C.J. Watkins echoed much of what the other board memberssaid, but added that Ory could give part of his salary if he wanted to.

“I’d like to say that we do have a mechanism in place that states that any board member who would like to make a donation is allowed to do so,” Watkins said. “I deserve the salary I get. I do a very thorough job and donot think I am overpaid. Mr. Ory can give half of his salary if he feels heshould.”Ory said he was disappointed that board members wouldn’t second his motion.

“We’re supposed to serve the community,” Ory said. “The community’s notsupposed to serve us.”

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