A Senate bill awaiting the governor’s signature would change California’s education code to align with how Los Angeles Unified pays its school board members, allowing for compensation more than five times the code’s initial cap. LAUSD currently pays $125,000 to school board members who do not have outside employment, in contrast to the $24,000 currently allowed for a district of its size under the education code. LAUSD currently operates by a Los Angeles City charter rule, which says compensation should be set by a compensation committee comprising stakeholders and community members chosen by officials outside the district, which the bill would make clear is permissible. The compensation committee’s decisions over salary have put LAUSD board members at a compensation level nearly seven times the amount earned by board members at the second-largest school district in the state. According to 2021 data from Transparent California, school board members at San Diego Unified earn $18,000 — the maximum under the state cap for a district of its size. The district’s average daily attendance is just under 100,000 for the 2020-21 school year, according to Ed-Data. Much of the conversation around the large bump in salary in 2017 stemmed from a push to make serving on the school board more accessible as well as from an intention to align responsibilities and compensation, noted Julie Marsh, a USC professor of education. School board members currently oversee districts larger than those overseen by the Los Angeles City Council. In 2017, council members earned $191,000 annually. Council members earned about $218,000 as of 2021. "There’s a lot in here, when we start thinking about school boards,” Marsh said, saying the level of compensation leads to other conversations about responsibilities. “I think it often leads into questions around what’s the role of the school board versus the superintendent.” She noted that some reference the school district as one governed by eight leaders rather than just the superintendent.

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