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Gainesville School Board aborts vote on per diem fees
Subject could be re-examined during budget talks
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Gainesville School Board members came close this week to voting on whether to add voluntary per diem payments of $150 on top of their monthly $500 flat fee.

The proposal was put in the form of a motion by Willie Mitchell and seconded by Sammy Smith.

Just when Board Chairman Brett Mercer asked for a vote, John Filson spoke up.

“Not to interrupt, I apologize … I don’t feel I have a good understanding of what it is that I’m voting on,” Filson said. “Is it up to a certain amount? Is it voluntary?”

At that point, Mitchell said he would withdraw his motion.

“Let’s just do the discussion and decide then to bring it back once we have something concrete,” Mitchell said.

The aborted vote followed a discussion about the proposal.

Smith said the additional per diem fee would be strictly optional and be on par with what is done by members of Gainesville City Council and Hall County Board of Commissioners.

“That I believe is as far as we should go in the middle of the budget year,” Smith said.

However, Delores Diaz said the school board should not compare itself with the council or Hall County commissioners.

“We should compare ourselves only to other boards of education,” Diaz said. “If you look at the charts we were provided, most systems either give a per diem or a salary. They don’t get a salary plus per diem. I’m just wondering, I don’t understand the need for us to have per diem because to me our salary is paying for our mileage.”

Superintendent Wanda Creel said a $500 flat fee is provided to board members.

Mercer said there should be some base rules, if the per diem fee is adopted.

Otherwise, we would be paid to go to every football game, basketball game, baseball game…” he said.

Smith clarified that the per diem would only be for meetings and training only.

“That’s as far that I think the discussion should go… Smith said.

Mercer suggested the matter be taken up again during the budget discussion in April and May.

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