Changes proposed for Pennsylvania school boards, members

(WHTM) – A Pennsylvania lawmaker wants to allow school board members to be paid while requiring more training.

State Representative Joe Webster (D-Montgomery) issued three memos to House members on Monday saying he plans to introduce legislation that could affect how school boards operate.

Webster says he will introduce legislation that would repeal the prohibition of compensation for school board members. The bill would allow communities to decide whether members can be paid a salary equal to the compensation limits for an individual locally elected to serve in the municipality.

“This is not consistent with other locally elected officials in Pennsylvania who can receive pay for their service,” says Webster. “Public service is the same whether you are elected to a school board or a local municipality, and it is time we establish parity between the two.”

In a second memo, Webster is proposing school board members get free tuition at any institution within the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) in specified courses that have a connection to their role as a board member.

Webster argued that it’s important to make sure board members have the resources to gain and improve the skills required for their job.

A third memo from Webster says he plans to introduce legislation increasing the number of training hours for school board members.

Webster says the legislation would increase the number of hours for new board members from 5 to 14 and training for re-elected members to increase from three hours per term to four hours annually.

Training would require topics such as instruction, fiscal management, and operations. The Pennsylvania Department of Education, under the proposed legislation, would be allowed to adjust the training as needed.

“To become a certified teacher in PA requires hundreds of hours of instruction and several rounds of practical teaching experience; surely a requirement of fewer hours than a one-credit college course is the bare minimum we should require for those managing the thousands of staff and students and millions of public dollars of a school district,” said Webster.

The same changes for training requirements would be made for charter school trustees.

Copies of the legislation were not immediately available.