Virginia Beach teachers deserve more than just thanks, association president tells School Board

To commemorate American Education Week, the Virginia Beach School Board passed a resolution Tuesday that called for continued support of public education and for more community involvement in local education efforts.

Before the board members approved the resolution, the president of the local teachers association told them that celebrating and praising the people who do the work is not enough.

“Our teachers, and all those who work for Virginia Beach City Public Schools deserve more than our sincere thanks and gratitude,” said Trenace Riggs, president of the Virginia Beach Education Association.

Riggs said teachers are tasked with not only educating students but also acting as a “counselor, coach, mentor, motivator,” especially for those who come to class with “backpacks full of burdens.” She said teachers don’t always know what situation students come from or what their home life is like, but they have to help them work through it nonetheless.

Teachers should be rewarded for that work, and not just with words, Riggs said.

“They deserve sincere compensation and sincere recognition, and they deserve to be heard with sincerity when they say they’re overburdened with large classes, when they tell us they have too little time to plan, when they say their students face too many standardized tests or are facing their backpack of burdens,” she told the School Board.

The school district increased class sizes last year to help fill an impending budget shortfall. At a work session in early October, many School Board members made it clear they did not want to do that again and supported reducing class sizes as soon as possible.

Superintendent Aaron Spence has also said he does not want to do increase class sizes again, especially after hearing from board members about their concerns over another increase.

“Neither Farrell (Hanzaker, the schools’ CFO) nor I believe that class-size raise would even be on our radar for a budget conversation this year,” Spence said at the October meeting.

“We don’t believe we need to do that again this year,” he added.

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