School & District Management

13 States Bar School Board Members From Getting Paid. Here’s Where It’s Allowed (Map)

By Caitlynn Peetz & Maya Riser-Kositsky — November 29, 2023 2 min read
Two professional adults, with a money symbol.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Despite some momentum around the country to increase pay for local school board members—or to allow them to be compensated at all—at least 13 states explicitly ban the practice, according to an EdWeek analysis of state laws.

The debate about whether school board members should receive compensation for their time and expertise has gained traction in recent years as districts contemplate how to develop more diverse slates of candidates for these influential seats.

In 2023 alone, two states—Kansas and Mississippi—codified school board compensation in state law, allowing members of local boards to receive pay for their work, according to the EdWeek analysis.

See Also

Image of a dollar sign being pushed up by a red arrow.
DigitalVision Vectors

The Denver school board earlier this month voted 6-1 to approve a salary increase for future board members, from $8,250 to $33,000 per year, the maximum allowed under Colorado law. In doing so, a board member cited a need to “remove barriers that prevent a school board that looks like and reflects” the student body, Chalkbeat Colorado reported.

Even the Denver board’s ability to pay its members was a recent development. The state law allowing school board members to be paid only passed in 2021.

Lawmakers in Illinois are also considering a change to state law that would allow school board members in Chicago to be paid as the schools in that city shift from a fully mayor-appointed board to a fully elected one in the coming years.

While the drive to pay school board members has happened in hopes of attracting members who are more representative of the communities they represent—both racially and socioeconomically—no research has been conducted to test whether compensation is effective in attracting more diverse candidates or in improving board members’ ability to manage districts, according to education researchers.

Still, advocates argue that the amount of time members spend working on board duties—preparing for and attending meetings, going to community events, and more—is evidence enough that they should be compensated. Many board members say their duties are equivalent to a full-time job.

Many states that do allow board members to be paid have an explicit cap on pay, whether it’s a set amount per meeting, defined daily pay, or a maximum annual salary. In some cases, the maximum pay is low. In Oklahoma, for example, the cap is $25 per board meeting for up to four meetings per month, and only for districts with an average daily attendance of at least 15,000. In Michigan, the cap is $30 per meeting for up to 52 meetings per year, which translates to a maximum of $1,560 annually. In Tennessee, school board members must be paid at least $4 per day of work.

California is home to likely the highest paid school board members: In Los Angeles, board of education members receive an annual salary of $125,000 if they do not have other employment, and $50,000 if they hold another job. State statute in California sets a maximum of $60 per month for small districts with fewer than 150 students, but salaries are set by municipalities for larger districts.

Neither Arizona nor Rhode Island has a state law allowing or restricting school board members’ pay.

The EdWeek analysis of state laws defined compensation as any pay for performing school board duties beyond reimbursement for expenses.


Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Science of Reading: Emphasis on Language Comprehension
Dive into language comprehension through a breakdown of the Science of Reading with an interactive demonstration.
Content provided by Be GLAD
English-Language Learners Webinar English Learners and the Science of Reading: What Works in the Classroom
ELs & emergent bilinguals deserve the best reading instruction! The Reading League & NCEL join forces on best practices. Learn more in our webinar with both organizations.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management Opinion 5 Reasons Why Education Leaders Avoid Controversial Topics
Understanding why we shy away from challenging conversations can be a path toward empathy and an opportunity for learning.
4 min read
Let's brainstorm!
Created on Canva
School & District Management Most Superintendents Try to Avoid Politics. This Group Encourages Them to Lean In
Superintendents increasingly face politically tricky situations. A new collaborative hopes to support them.
3 min read
Illustration of person riding a unicycle on a tightrope over shark infested waters.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images
School & District Management Superintendent of the Year Focuses on How to ‘Do More’ in Minnesota
The 2024 winner of the national honor didn't want to spend pandemic relief funds "in the way that we’ve always spent our money."
2 min read
Joe Gothard, superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools stands for a portrait at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minn., on Aug. 21, 2021, where new federal school funding will help to hire staff, buy books and be used for building renovations.
Joe Gothard, superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools stands for a portrait at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minn., on Aug. 21, 2021. Gothard was named the 2024 National Superintendent of the Year on Thursday by AASA, The School Superintendents' Association.
Andy Clayton-King/AP
School & District Management The Average U.S. School Building Dates Back to the End of the Vietnam War
New federal data highlight widely varying ages and offerings in school buildings nationwide.
4 min read
School Renovation in Washington Heights, Chicago
E+ / Getty