School Board Member Pay Discussion Disallowed- Resolution Tabled

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By Dave Freneaux

School Board Member Russell Starns brought a resolution to the Central Community School Board Monday night to prohibit any payment of salaries to School Board Members until such time as Central's teachers are being paid as well as teachers in neighboring school systems.  School Board Vice President Dr. Jim Gardner spoke against the resolution, asserting that the timing of the resolution was politically motivated, coming just five days before this Saturday's School Board election.  Gardner then made a substitute motion which was seconded by member Will Easley to table the issue, which would delay any action until a future School Board meeting.
School Board President Sharon Browning, citing Robert's Rules of Order, stated that there would be no discussion of the issue and called for a vote.  Starns then objected to Gardner's accusations and maintained the resolution was not political and that this resolution had been on the agenda eleven months ago but was deferred due to time constraints. School Board Member Marty Guilbeau began to weigh in on the issue but discussion was halted by Board President Browning who stated "I think we're out of order" and then asked School Board Attorney Sheri Morris to give her opinion.  Ms. Morris explained. "The State Law requires public comment on any action taken by the Board."  School Board President Browning then stated, "I'm going to overrule you." and called for a vote.  Members Browning, Easley, Gardner and Walker voted to table the resolution, Guilbeau and Starns voted against, and Foil abstained.

While it is impossible, in a single newspaper article, to completely and accurately capture the exchange in this School Board discussion, three facts remain.  1) The entirety of the recorded discussion can be listened to at the Central School Board office at no charge.  2) Robert's Rules of Order do indeed allow the tabling of a resolution with no forther discussion, but Robert's Rules do not supercede Louisiana State Law.  3) Louisiana State Law, reffered to by the School Board Attorney in the meeting, in Revised Statute 42:15, reads that it is required that any School Board "shall allow public comment at any meeting of the school board prior to taking any vote."

Lastly, it is important to understand that The members of the Central Community School Board have always served without compensation.  The resolution at issue in this meeting was not to set compensation and there has been no motion before this board to pay Central School Board members.


  1. kyle

    September 28, 2010 at 11:14 am

    This makes me sick! What are Gardner and Browning trying to pull? How can she overrule the attorney and state law? Can anything be done to her? Let them explain why they didn’t want public comment on this issue!!! Something stinks! Does our school board president even know the rules? Seems like she makes them up to suit her and the vice-president’s interests. This isn’t the first time this has happened where she has tried to stop public comment and discussion on an item that didn’t suit her!

    Mr. Starns and Mr. Guilbeau, thank you for trying to protect and look after the interests of the teachers. It’s sad that the others will not. The people of this city better wake up and realize what’s going on with certain members of our school board!!

  2. ward

    September 28, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    To raise money, they should charge $7 to get in because it is like watching a play. What Mr. Gardner and Ms. Browning did was well rehearsed. First, I would tell the president of the school board to be professional, learn some manners, and learn Robert’s Rule of order. Don’t speak when others are speaking. Mr. Gardner, what motive do you have to say this was politically motivated? Are you protecting Ms. Foil? She is the only one in an election race. It has become obvious that the public meeting law has been broken by some members of this school board. I am very disappointed to see how these folks act and the decisions they make and to claim they are independent voices. Mr. Easley and Mr. Walker are playing into their hand as well. This was another attempt to “sweep under the rug” something that they do not want to discuss until Mr. Starns and Mr. Guilbeau are out of the picture. Again, read the rules on “Tabling” How sad this is for “We the people”. I agree it is hard to put into word what I experienced last night so I would like to invite everyone to attend these meetings. If the public would catch only a glance of what is taking place they would be appalled. Teachers, this is another slap in the face for you. You got it once, you turned the other cheek…and got it again.

  3. Because I Care...

    September 28, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    An important FACT is seemingly being glossed over here: the school board members do NOT currently receive a salary at all! To presume, as the two previous commenters did, that the school board members are not looking after the teachers or that the teachers are not being respected by this school board is a BLATANT misrepresentation. The teachers ARE RECEIVING a salary. Sure, they would like more, and it would be great if they could be paid more. But they ARE receiving a salary, whereas the school board members currently DO NOT receive a salary. There are other benefits that go along with teaching in a particular school system other than just salary. Just go ask all the teachers out there who would LOVE to teach in the Central Community School District rather than some of the surrounding school districts where they currently teach.

  4. Mike Gardner

    September 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    As a teacher I would like to thank Russell and Marty for standing up for all of us. Not only last night but thru out their tenure as school board members. I hate to see them off the board, but understand why. Without them we don’t have our own school system. And I don’t understand why this could not be decided last night.

  5. Keith Kepper

    September 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    @Because I Care- If you really cared you would be concerned for what was a “BLATANT misrepresentation” of a PUBLIC meeting. Nothing public about the teachers pay vs SB pay portion of the meeting it was railroad politics!! And I can only hope our teachers love their jobs here cause if they don’t they surely have no voice and that was evident at the meetings concerning the Special Needs program. Oh, and last I checked loving your job doesn’t pay your bills!! As far as our School Board members are concerned they ran for and were elected to a NONPAYING position!! Did you get that? NONPAYING!!!! Why now has it been determined that those positions require pay? What do we have 7 SB members? Lets say THEY vote THEMSELVES an $800/month compensation (like our City Council has) … my math indicates that would be $67,200.00 per year additional cost to our school system! I’m sure thats a much better use of our money than computers or additional money for the minor sports that struggle every season!! Maybe you should climb down off of that high horse you are on and join the real world, you know the one where $67,200.00 makes a difference!!

  6. Because I Care...

    September 28, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    No high horse,here, darlin’- just a realistic insight into the world of teaching. Have YOU ever been a public school teacher?
    Where are you getting your “supposed” compensation figures from? Oh, I see, just goin’ along with the city council figures, aren’t you,now? Well, that does not really tell you anything about the school board. And, by the way, being a school board member is MOST CERTAINLY as important a job as being on the city council. As to your comment that loving your job doesn’t pay the bills, well, of course not! Who would ever think that?! I can assure you if the teacher salary here isn’t “paying the bills” those particular teachers wouldn’t be hanging around. Of course it would be disappointing to see any teachers have to switch school systems in order to “pay their bills”, but this happens all the time in real life in all sorts of employment including the teaching field. However, there are many dedicated and qualified teachers in surrounding school systems who would be glad to teach in the Central Community School District even though the salary here might strain their budget a little more. As I said in my previous comments, there are other benefits than salary that come from working in a particular school district. Don’t get me wrong,though,if any occupation deserves to be way more highly paid, it is that of a classroom teacher! At the same time though, indivuals such as myself who go into the field of teaching KNOW we’re worth WAY more in terms of salary, and yet at the same time we go into this vocation/line of work with our eyes open. We know that our chosen vocation does not provide anywhere near the salary that it is really worth! Still, EVEN KNOWING THIS, we CHOOSE to go into this particular field. Are we worth a higher salary? Oh, you better believe it… and yet we still make the conscious choice to pursue this particular vocation. If anybody knows that loving your job doesn’t always pay the bills, it would have to be teachers! And yet we still choose this career…I guess you might need to have the heart of a teacher to really understand this!

  7. Keith Kepper

    September 28, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Because- Since there are no numbers for school board compensation yet I assumed the same amount as the Council…and that would be because I think they are equitable in need and worth. But, that doesn’t mean that I agree with paying either. I believe a public servant such as councilman or SB member who’s only requirement is 2 meetings per month should be done by folks willing to volunteer there time. No, I know nothing of teaching or teachers compensation other than it is rarely enough. However, I do think teachers should be paid according to worth and performance like the rest of the professional world. I fully agree that Central is a wonderful place to teach but that can quickly change once a School Board decides that they are above the wants of the citizens they are elected to represent. If as the President of our School Board you over rule the advice of legal council (whose only reason for being there is to provide advice) and deny the legislated right for citizen involvement, then when do the needs and desires of teachers stop mattering? I say sooner than you think! This post is not about teachers although you pushed it that way, it is about a school board that doesn’t care about the vary ppl they are there to serve. To digress for a moment…did they at some point forget that they appoint the Superintendent not the other way around? Did they forget that they are the check and balance for the school system and not just yes men/women for the Super? Tell me who speaks for us, those whose tax dollars allow all of this to be possible, if the school board doesn’t?? I tell you who…no one!! And I should pay for this service…I’m not interested in doing that. I don’t need the heart of a teacher to know right and wrong, and this was totally wrong!!

  8. Donna Dufour

    September 28, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    After hearing all the negative comments for several months about our School Board President I have to wonder why no one has run against her. As far as pay, our teachers and police will never make what they are worth, but like the board members they knew going into this they weren’t going to get rich. Thankfully they do it because they want to.

  9. ward

    September 29, 2010 at 7:35 am

    Keith, You hit the nail on the head with “…did they at some point forget that they appoint the Superintendent not the other way around? Did they forget that they are the check and balance for the school system and not just yes men/women for the Super?”. I often wounder if they realize who works for who. On the comment about wanting to work here. I always wanted a place where I could work for less AND be threatened with my job by my boss! That would give me a warm fuzz at the end of the day and I would feel good about what I do. It will be a matter of time before the only way we can attract good teachers is because of pay. Right now, then reason teachers are staying is because of their passion and the hope for change in what we have paved the road to be in our future. The current working conditions are not favorable today.

  10. mike mannino

    September 29, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Is there a plan or has there been discussion to pay the SB members ? Is that what the conflict is about ? I dont know the history behind this so can someone clear it up for us ?

  11. beth

    September 29, 2010 at 11:03 am

    From what I can tell, the school board members have not actually said they want to be paid or taken any votes on it. I think Mr. Starnes was just trying to put something in place that would focus on raising teacher pay before the discussion of school board compensation could come up. I don’t think anyone has actually said whether they do or do not want to be paid as school board members. There is clearly conflict going on according to this week’s school board meeting, but so far it has not been specifically about school board pay or a lack thereof since no one has taken a stance either way.

  12. mike mannino

    September 29, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Thanks Beth. I dont remember hearing any discussion about SB being paid so I was wondering if it had come up. Thanks for the clarification.

  13. kyle

    September 29, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I think it is fairly common to set compensation for elected officials prior to an election taking place, rather than afterwards. If the members get elected, and then vote themselves pay, it looks really bad. Remember when our state legislature did this a year or two ago…they all got elected and then voted themselves a pay raise and it raise all kinds of uproar across the state, so the governor vetoed it.
    I think the same procedure is taking place here. I think Mr. Starns wanted to bring this up before an election, even though there are four members who are unopposed. If they do vote to get paid, it should not take place for the next term. It should go into effect four years from now!

  14. justdumpfounded

    September 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    From what I understand there was a discussion that was put aside to discuss SB pay 11 months ago and also looking at teacher pay in our school district to make it at a more competitive level with surrounding areas. But there still remains the fact that SB members where voted into their office without compensation. They all ran on the campaign block to work hard for the schools and put the students/teachers first. At least that is what I thought my SB representative ran on, I guess I was wrong now. I have an idea, all those who want to run for School Board without compensation, which as been the way it was when everyone ran to begin with, then run. If you want to be compensated then don’t run or better yet resign and let someone who will do it for the children and young people in our community, stand up and fight for them and the teachers. This school system and our SB was not intended to be about expectations of money and power. But, that is all this is, who has the bigger stick to swing. Circumventing State Law is no laughing matter, overruling attorneys who are in place to protect you really looks bad, playing politics with the lives of our children and teachers there is no excuse for that, IT IS JUST WRONG!!! I would love to have my love ones here teaching but it is not financially feasible to take such a pay cut. I also have one that wants to come back and teach once they complete college and have their degree so whoever said something about taking lower pay to come teach in Central, think about it. These men and women in the school district work day in and day out, many volunteer for extra duty, coaching positions, sponsor positions, tuitoring before and after school and yet they do it because they love what they do, they want to help the children, they want to make a difference in a young persons life and many do not receive one extra penny, do they deserve it, YES. They put in the hours, take care of them first. I am with Russell on this one all the way.

  15. mike mannino

    September 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    No way a current member should be able to vote on their pay !!

  16. Captain Obvious

    September 29, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    Here is a thought. Maybe we could use the money that is beign thrown out the window for drug testing and use that to give the teachers a raise. Just an idea. CCSS wants to use $40/student for the hair sample testing. After going to meet the Wildcats night I would say about 2/3 of the school is involved in some extra curricular activity plus drive to school. Let’s say the high school enrollment is 1200 so that is about 800 students. Well that means the CCSS will spend approximately $32,000/year for drug testing. Central High has approx. 75 for the faculty. That could mean approx. $425/year raise for the High School staff. Yes that doesn’t sound like much but I would rather that money be used on teacher salary then drug testing.

  17. justdumpfounded

    September 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Capt O go back to your drug forum. If you don’t have a child being tested then stay out of the conversation. Go cry to the LHSAA and see if they give you a tissue, I doubt it. Parents sign a consent, student sign a consent, if they dont’ want to then ride the bus or don’t play and participate. I can tell you from being right there on the front line, those that do not have anything to worry about have no issues with it, so stop trying to play politics. Many would rather have a sample of hair taken over having to carry a pee cup or even peeing in a cup for that fact.

  18. justdumpfounded

    September 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Mike I am with you. This is a democracy not a dictatorship. That is the whole point of the “discussion rights” in the law before a vote, it is based on the democratic state that we are in and the right to have a voice when it effects you or those that you love and care about.

  19. kyle

    October 3, 2010 at 9:55 am

    What concerns me even more after attending some school board meetings is that Ms Browning and Mr Gardner always seem to have a speech typed up to read or a well-rehearsed speech to state before the audience even has a chance to make public comment. This seems to me that these two, in particular, have their minds made up how they’re going to vote on something before the audience even gets to give their input! What’s the point of public participation when you know you’re going to be ignored. Sad, Sad, Sad. If you haven’t been to a school board meeting, you need to start going. Don’t just go to one…go to them all. It will be an eye-opening experience.

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