NORFOLK, Va. - School divisions across Hampton Roads are seeking to address teacher pay with proposed raises for the upcoming school year.
Virginia lawmakers are still working out the final details of their budget before ending their session on Saturday, but the both the House and Senate versions include raises for teachers.
School divisions are proposing raises generally in the 5% range, which is in-line with the proposed state budget.
Some have included proposed raises above that, including in Suffolk, where teachers could get raises of 6.4%, with some getting more than that.
The Suffolk School Board voted unanimously Thursday night to approve bonuses for employees. Full-time staff will get a $2,000 bonus.
In Portsmouth, the superintendent has proposed a 5% raise for all staff, including for positions not funded through the state budget. School Board chair Dr. Cardell Patillo said he supports the proposal.
"We know at the end of the day with inflation and the rising cost of everything that's needed and necessary for us to live, that it is essential to raise staff pay," he said.
Portsmouth, like school divisions across Hampton Roads, has a number of openings, including more than 100 for teachers.
"We're hoping that with these changes, increasing pay and also raising the salaries for bus drivers and school nurses, that we can actually increase what we have now," Patillo said.
A report from last year examined the differences in teacher pay compared with other careers. Virginia had the highest negative difference between teacher pay and other careers of all 50 states, according to business.org., only ahead of Washington, D.C.
Teachers earned an average of around $54,000, while other careers brought in around $60,000, the report found.
"We know that 5% is just the start because Virginia is nowhere near what the national average is. We want to make sure our teachers feel the appreciation that we have with the job they do day in and day out," Patillo said.
Newport News teacher Mary Vause is hoping her school board and eventually city council will approve a 5% raise for teachers.
"Teacher salaries are definitely too low, especially with the massive teacher shortage we have in Virginia and Newport News, but a 5% raise for this year is a really good first step," she said.