Sixty-two dollars isn’t a lot of money. Some would call it chump change.

But if you are broke, $62 can be considered a sizable sum.

If someone hands me $62, I’m not going to complain, especially if I didn’t have to work too hard for the cash.

And I can’t say sitting through a two-hour high school graduation is much work.

Well, $62 is exactly what the Lake Central High School and Valparaiso High School board members are paid to attend their school’s graduation.

It’s good work if you can get it. Given how boring high school graduations are, you can almost call it a bribe. No other area school districts pay their board members to attend graduations.

Lake Central and Valparaiso also pay their school board members $62 for attending a variety of committee meetings.

Most school board members in Northwest Indiana are paid $112 for attending a board meeting and $62 for executive sessions and committee meetings. Munster is the lone school district that doesn’t pay its board members for meetings.

All area board members are paid a $2,000 annual salary. With pay for attending meetings, they are allowed to make up to $10,000.

Public service is a wonderful thing, and those who choose to serve deserve plaudits. Especially those who serve on a school board, which isn’t the sexiest of public service jobs.

Public service is an honorable thing. It’s not something people do to get rich.

But there is something about getting paid to attend a high school graduation that doesn’t ring well.

You would think a school board member would want to attend the high school graduation. It would be fair to say the board members — from afar — played a role in the education of those moving on.

Knowing a board member is being paid to attend the ceremony would seem to cheapen the meaning of public service.

There is an easy solution to this dilemma.

The state ought to raise the amount of money a school trustee can be paid and eliminate the per-meeting stipends.

The graduating students might then think their school board members want to attend their graduation with no strings attached.

And board members might feel better about being there if they know they won’t be looking for a check on the way out.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjamescolumns@gmail.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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