Republicans and Democrats in Virginia are both on board with a five-percent raise for teachers. That news comes after thousands of educators marched to the capitol this week, demanding more funding for public education. But when it comes to teacher salaries, there’s more than meets the eye.
When the General Assembly promises a pay raise for teachers, that money doesn’t all come from state coffers. Localities are actually on the hook for a big chunk of it. On average, almost half.
And if they can’t afford it, those raises may not happen.
“Do I believe that every locality in the Commonwealth will implement a five-percent salary increase for school staff? Absolutely not,” says the Virginia Education Association’s Kathy Burcher.
Burcher adds that the local match is not the only barrier to raises for teachers. The other is that the state doesn’t determine the dollar figure it sends by the actual number of teachers in a district.
Instead, the state sends money based on a recommended student to teacher ratio.
“Without the state sending additional dollars for the staff that is truly in place on the ground, until we can make changes there, it’s going to be very challenging for us to see real movement on salaries,” says Burcher.
According to the Virginia Education Association, every locality in Virginia hires more staff than the state provides funding for.