CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Chesterfield parents are making a plea to the county to increase teacher pay before the budget is finalized.
The PTA coined March 30 as "teacher pay appreciation day."
“It’s a day we came up with talking with teachers and the needs of teachers,” Dr. Ben Pearson-Nelson, the PTA President of the Chesterfield County Council, said.
Pearson-Nelson helped create the day for parents to email the county's Board of Supervisors. The board has not finalized the budget yet to allocate funding to the district.
They want parents to say how much they value Chesterfield schools, and how they want the board to support teachers.
“Tell them you want to make sure our teachers are paid adequately,” Pearson-Nelson said.
According to a Chesterfield County Human Resources document, Chesterfield has the lowest starting pay salary locally for the 2021-2022 school year. It shows Chesterfield’s starting pay at $46,000.
Hanover County starts at $46,982, while Henrico’s starting teacher salary is at $48,033.
The district currently has close to 200 vacancies, up from 43 vacancies in 2019, according to a district spokesperson.
A study conducted by a district-hired consulting company found the top reason surveyed teachers are leaving. They found most teachers feel folks are leaving for better salaries or pay.
The study also showed that 55% of surveyed Chesterfield teachers feel teacher salary is “worse than most” schools in Virginia. The study also found that Chesterfield's average yearly increase in salary is below the market average.
“If we’re not increasing the incentives to teach it makes it a lot harder to fill those positions. We want all of our kids to have high-quality educators,” said Pearson-Nelson.
The PTA is also collecting signatures and comments through a petition, and plans to continually send that information to the Board of Supervisors.
The Chesterfield superintendent is also requesting for the Board of Supervisors to increase teacher pay.
The board will finalize their budget soon.