The passage of HB21–1055 allows school districts to compensate members of their school boards and not exceed $150 per day for official board duties, which is in the purview of local districts to decide. This decision is now in the hands of local school boards across Colorado.
The Denver School Board must pass this policy by the certification of the November election in order for those elected in 2021 to receive compensation for their labor over the next four years. If it is not passed before the certification of the election, the entire school board would NOT be able to receive compensation until December 2025. Board pay is imperative because everyone should be paid for their labor, especially the stewards of a $1.1 Billion budget. I will not personally be eligible for compensation, unless the voters of Denver send me back to the Denver School Board in 2023.
What I am proposing is only a start and pay will need to be re-examined in the future to keep up with the rising economy. The proposed stipend is not a living wage, however, due to staunch opposition, I must compromise. This proposal, at the very least, puts us in the right direction in order to begin to remove barriers for individuals that may want to run for a position on the Denver School Board but are unable to do so due to the required commitment of time without compensation. A result of the board’s lack of diversity is that we look much like our non-diverse teaching pool — 57% of the Denver School Board are white, while 80% of our students are students of color.
School board directors are generally either retired, independently wealthy, or work jobs that give them the flexibility to both work their current job and serve on the Denver School Board. I was forced to leave my paying job in the district to accept the volunteer position on the board. While searching for a new job I had to be mindful of the hours required to fulfill my duty on the board and, soon after, the global pandemic hit. I have since been left with severe financial insecurities working whatever freelance jobs I can find. In my second year in office, I welcomed a new addition to my family and had to seriously consider resigning from office to take care of my new son, but because I have a supportive family and extended family, I am able to be in his life without missing key moments. If I did not have this support system I would not be able to be on the school board.
Here is my proposal to begin this monumental move to compensate members of the Denver School Board: Compensation for board members shall not exceed $1,000 a month.
The fiscal impact on the district would be less than $48,000 a year until December of 2023.
This would then increase when the 2023 elections have concluded the remaining three board members would be compensated up to $1,000 a month, and would be compensated less than $84,000 a year. After the 2021 elections, it would take 0.00004363636% from the annual budget and then in 2023 that would increase to 0.00007727272%.
The current proposal would make it that members of the Denver School Board would make less than any other position in Denver Public Schools.
I believe in breaking barriers so parents and working-class people like me can see themselves reflected on the Denver School Board. I believe that equity and diversity should be more than buzz words, and school board pay will help us live out those values.
Tay Anderson is one of the current at-large members of the Denver Public Schools Board of Education.