South Carolina

School board voting on pay raise that would make it state’s highest paid

Joe DeFeo (pictured) is the Horry County school board chairman. The board is planning to vote on a pay increase Monday.
Joe DeFeo (pictured) is the Horry County school board chairman. The board is planning to vote on a pay increase Monday. jblackmon@thesunnews.com

The Horry County school board is planning to vote on its own pay increase Monday night.

Board chairman Joe DeFeo said he didn’t know how much of an increase the board would vote on, but said there were three options on the table. Any of the options would make it the highest-paid school board in South Carolina.

The choices include a $3,000 pay raise that puts the board’s pay at $12,600 per year, an increase of $6,366 to match Horry County Council pay or a change in governance policy to tie the school board salary to county council’s salary.

Increasing the board’s pay to match county council would mean a 66 percent increase in board pay and DeFeo said his pay would remain at 20 percent more than the board regardless of the pay increase and would not be tied to the county council chairman’s pay.

“We work every bit as hard, some harder, some less harder – it’s up to the individual – than county council and this is Horry County,” said DeFeo.

We work every bit as hard, some harder, some less harder, it’s up to the individual, than county council and this is Horry County.

Joe DeFeo, Horry County school board chair

Board governance policy states that “Board member compensation will be reviewed by June 30 every odd-numbered year and adjusted, if deemed appropriate, consistent with current market data.”

The school board is currently the second highest-paid district in South Carolina and DeFeo is the highest-paid school-board member in the state.

The highest-paid board is the Greenville County School District, the state’s largest district with 76,000 students. Greenville County School Board of Trustees make $10,749 per year.

District spokeswoman Teal Britton said that no study had been done in reference to the “market data” mentioned in the governance policy, but DeFeo said the only market data he was concerned with was pay for councils and boards in Horry County.

I get phones calls and stuff constantly from people because we have 45,000 students. It’s not a fair comparison.

Joe DeFeo, Horry County school board chair

“You want to compare it to the rest of the state, I’ll tell you the truth, I’ve talked to board members and they don’t do anything,” he said. “I’ve been to places, I’m not going to pull anybody’s name out of a hat, but you go to the meetings and they ‘Well, we just show up to the meeting and vote ‘yes or no’ and go home.’ Well if that’s what they do, maybe they shouldn’t get anything.”

DeFeo said that smaller districts throughout the state are “rubber stamp” districts with fewer students and fewer board responsibilities.

“We have standing committees that we attend,” he said. “I attend almost every one except some of the financial ones and I missed two of the facilities (committee meetings). I get phone calls and stuff constantly from people because we have 45,000 students. It’s not a fair comparison.”

The vote will take place during a school board meeting 6 p.m. Monday at the district office at 335 4 Mile Rd, Conway, SC 29526 in board room C-107.

Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian

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