McAuliffe announces 2 percent raise for teachers in budget proposal

Gov. Terry McAuliffe (Courtesy of governor.virginia.gov)
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (Courtesy of governor.virginia.gov)

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today that his budget proposal will include pay raises for teachers, state employees, college faculty and other public workers, the first time since 2008 that a governor’s initial spending plan has included money for such raises.

McAuliffe said on WRVA’s “Ask the Governor’s Show” that $83.3 million will be set aside in his two-year budget for a 2 percent salary increase for teachers and those in instructional or support positions who are covered by the Standards of Quality. That increase would take effect July 10, 2017.

The Virginia Beach Education Association, which advocates for teachers, was hoping to see a bigger raise in the governor’s budget to help recruit and retain new educators.

“We thought it was going to be better than that. We’re kind of disappointed,” said Trenace Riggs, the association’s president.

Riggs said the local and state education associations will continue to advocate for a higher salary increase before McAuliffe releases his budget Dec. 17.

Beach School Board Vice Chairwoman Beverly Anderson said she was glad to see the governor taking steps to help bring state funding for schools back to where it was before the recession.

“I’m all for that,” she said of the 2 percent raise proposal. “Any help the state could give us to help us locally would be great.”

If the General Assembly approves the additional state funding, the state’s direction on how it must be used at the local level will dictate how that money is factored into future Virginia Beach schools budgets.

“Sometimes they say this is money that’s earmarked strictly for teachers’ salary,” Anderson said, adding that other times the state asks local governments to match the state money.

Many of the school district cuts in Virginia Beach since 2008 have been to support positions, such as teacher assistants, Anderson said. She said it would help if the state provided more money for those positions to shift the funding burden off of the city.

McAuliffe said of his raise proposal: “Our state employees, professors, teachers and deputies are working hard to help build a new Virginia economy, and we are pleased to recognize their contributions with a well-deserved pay increase that will benefit thousands of Virginia families and their communities.”

The entry-level salary for teachers in Virginia Beach is $42,810. Teachers at the top end of the pay scale in the city — those with at least 36 years of service — have an annual salary of $73,818.

Riggs said the district needs to provide more incentives to keep teachers in the education field, rather than losing them to other, more lucrative opportunities.

“We hope he goes to back to the drawing board and says, ‘Hmm, we have to do more,’ ” she said of the governor.

McAuliffe’s proposal is contingent on a stable revenue forecast for fiscal year 2018.

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