Something that came up briefly in both Roanoke and Roanoke County school board meetings last week was Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal to give teachers a 2 percent raise and just what that means locally.
Just because a 2 percent raise has been proposed doesn’t mean teachers will end up with a bit more in their paychecks.
While McDonnell’s proposed budget does call for a raise for teachers (and even last week there was talk about kicking in the money for support staff too), local education officials said funding their portion of such raises might be tough.
Penny Hodge, Roanoke County Public Schools assistant superintendent of finance, said for the county to give teachers raises it will cost about $1.9 million. But with a lean budget where would that money come from?
“We don’t have the revenue so the choice has to be what do you not do,” Hodge said of any new expenditures.
If the system is short and there’s no new revenue, officials would have to look to cutting things from the budget to fund a potential increase.
“It’s a very real possibility school systems will have to turn down salary incentive money,” Hodge said.
Over in the city, officials there have also discussed the costs locally to give such raises. During a meeting earlier this month, Deputy Superintendent Curt Baker said the proposal would mean an increase of about $1 million in state revenues in the city system’s budget to cover the proposed raise for educators. But, he said, after funding an additional step in the Virginia Retirement System and the local portion of a salary increase, the system’s budget would be up by just $800,000.
Of course right now McDonnell’s budget is simply being discussed and it is also worth noting those raises were tied to lawmakers making changes to teacher evaluations and contracts. The General Assembly is also just several weeks into the session and the final budget is likely to look different than what the governor proposed in December.
Still, last week Roanoke County officials, who did give educators raises last year, appeared frustrated lawmakers in Richmond weren’t willing to consider that fact. Some officials visited Richmond on Thursday.
“No one wanted to even think about what we did last year,” board chairman Jerry Canada said during a Thursday evening board meeting. “We’re still swinging. We’re still at the plate. We’re still swinging.”