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School board salary change awaits Crist

Gov. Charlie Crist has just a few days left to act on dozens of bills, including a barely-noticed education bill, SB 2092, that repeals a controversial law that was pushed through by House Republicans in 2002. During a special session dedicated to a new school code, Republicans, including former Rep. Ralph Arza, pushed through a requirement that school board members must set their own salaries in a public meeting. This was a compromise over initial House proposals to do away with school board salaries altogether.

But Rep. Joe Pickens, a Palatka Republican and one-time attorney for the Putnam County School Board, tacked on an amendment in the waning days of the 2007 session to change school board salaries back to a formula that pays board members based on population.

Pickens said it was wrong that school board members are the only constitutional officers required to publicly vote on their own salaries, while others have their automatically adjusted according to a state formula.

"There is absolutely no reason for school board members to be the only constitutional officers to decide what their salaries are,'' said Pickens.