BRUNSWICK — School board members will receive a pay raise for the first time in over 35 years after councilors voted Monday to double school board compensation. 

The current $1,500 stipend was set in 1983. The new $3,000 stipend, which goes into effect Jan. 6., makes Brunswick’s school board the highest paid in the state. 

But it’s not the increase the board asked for. 

James Grant, board chairman, said that when the charter was written, the council was having twice as many meetings as the school board, so they were paid twice as much. 

But now, with 21 meetings per year, plus six standing committees and four ad hoc committees, that disparity is no longer there. As elected officials just like the council, they should be treated equally, he said. 

Councilors voted to double their own pay last month after from $2,000 to $4,000, with an additional $500 for the vice chairman and $1,000 for the chairman. The council’s compensation was last increased in 1980. 

The school board, though, decided not to pursue any additional pay for the chairman or vice chairman. 

“We take turns sharing this role,”  Grant said at an earlier meeting “Everyone does a lot of work, I don’t see any reason for an imbalance.” 

“There are some weeks when it’s four nights a week and two meetings a night,” he said. “The role has expanded as schools have become more involved.”

Though serving on the board is a voluntary role, it does matter, Vice Chairman Ben Tucker said, and an increase, especially to the same level as the council, would be a “huge statement about the importance of education in this town,” he said. 

Councilor Dan Jenkins, who voted against the increase, said he was concerned about paying the school board members more than any other board in the state. 

Councilor Christopher Watskinson disagreed, and said “leading the pack” in that way should be a “point of pride.” 

Chairman John Perreault voted in favor of the increase but said that compared to other districts, $4,000 would be too high. The proposed $3,000 stipend was more appropriate, he said. 

Councilor Jane Millett, whose last meeting was Monday after six years on the council, proposed the increase as the only outgoing member. Kathy Wilson is now the only woman on the nine-person council and Millett and others said they hope an increased stipend will help encourage others to run for a seat, adding more diversity to the board. It can also help families cover the cost of childcare, she said. 

Councilor Dan Ankeles was the lone hold out for the council increase, on the grounds that “given how rough next year will be” with some of the projects coming before the town council next year, he could not in good conscience vote to raise the compensation. 

He joined Jenkins and voted against the motion Monday as well. 

“I care about the value of good education,” he said, but given budgetary priorities, “I don’t think this rises to a level that should merit this kind of increase in spending.”

Comments are not available on this story.