AURORA | After the Aurora Public Schools Board president raised concerns about a lack of community feedback, board directors declined to schedule a vote Thursday on whether to begin paying school board members.
Along with the rest of Colorado’s school boards, the seven-member board is currently not compensated financially for its work. In the most recent legislative session, the Colorado Legislature passed a law allowing board members to be compensated.
The bill caps board members’ pay at $150 a day up to five days a week, and requires the school board to hold a public meeting before they vote to allow compensation. Board members cannot vote to pay themselves during their current term, any decision would go into effect for members elected after the vote.
Only one incumbent, Debbie Gerkin, is running for re-election. Gerkin said she would abstain from the discussion and the vote and had an excused absence from Thursday’s special school board meeting, as did director Kevin Cox.
After the state law passed, the APS board discussed looking into compensating itself, with director Marques Ivey as the point person. After researching the subject, Ivey came forward with a draft of a resolution compensating board members $150 per function, capped at $450 per month.
As per state law, the board scheduled a special meeting to discuss the resolution, where it invited the public to weigh in. Ivey said he came up with the cap based on an estimate of one to two board meetings per month along with one other official district function that members might attend in their official capacity as board members.
According to the resolution, official board duties include attending regular or special board meetings and work sessions, attending board-approved training or development meetings and serving as a designated board representative at district functions.
At the regular board meeting on Tuesday, where the resolution was also briefly discussed, the board came up with the idea of delaying any vote by two years. If the board voted the resolution into effect immediately, only the board members who took office after the vote would be eligible for compensation. Ivey said that he thought an uneven implementation would be awkward, and other members agreed.
During Thursday’s meeting the board members discussed the measure among themselves but there were not any community members who asked to speak.
Board president Kyla Armstrong-Romero said she was uncomfortable voting on the motion until the board had received feedback, and said she thought the board needed to hold more community forums to try to generate engagement. The scheduled one-hour meeting ended after half an hour as no community members showed up to give comments.
If the board does not vote until after the election in two weeks, it will delay when the measure can take effect to four years instead of two.
Depending on which board ends up voting first, Aurora or Denver will likely become the first school district to approve school board compensation. Denver Public Schools board member Tay Anderson has lobbied to vote for compensation and the board discussed the issue at its Monday meeting, but did not schedule a vote.
Chalkbeat Colorado contributed to this report