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A member of the Charleston (S.C.) County school board has resigned in protest over her colleagues’ efforts to award themselves $15,000 annual salaries. Mary Ann Taylor – the only board member who voted against the payment when it was first proposed – called the idea “disgusting” and “offensive.”

Former Republican S.C. Superintendent of Education candidate Elizabeth Moffly is one of several school board members pushing the idea.

Board members currently receive $25 per meeting – which Moffly called “a joke.”

“The vast majority of the Board has no interest in doing what’s best for the children of Charleston County, only in promoting their own personal interests,” Taylor said in a statement announcing her resignation. “As a lifelong classroom teacher holding a principal’s certification, I can no longer be a part of a Board committed to helping themselves rather than educating our children.”

According to Diette Courrégé – the reporter at The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier who broke the pay hike story – thirty-one of South Carolina’s 85 school districts do not pay their board members a salary. Horry County, on the other hand, pays its school board members $9,600 annually (and pays its chairman $13,440 annually).

Here at FITS, we’ve chosen to make this issue not so much about whether school board members should be paid … but about the fact that there are so many friggin’ school boards in this state to begin with.

South Carolina currently has 85 school districts – far too many for a student population of less than 700,000.

We’ve long recommended that South Carolina lawmakers consolidate this top-heavy administrative “educracy” by creating one statewide district divided into thirty “regional education councils.” That way taxpayers could reduce the amount of money spent on superintendent salaries and other duplicative administrative overhead.

Of course no matter how you slice up the bureaucracies, this state will continue to experience declining achievement until it stops pouring money down the drain and starts insisting on real accountability … a.k.a. the accountability of the marketplace.