Debate over teacher pay in Henrico brings more questions than answers

Debate over teacher pay in Henrico brings more questions than answers
Source: NBC12

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A $4 million proposal to give across-the-board raises to teachers in Henrico led to heated debate at a meeting Monday night.

That suggestion came from Henrico's newest supervisor, Courtney Lynch - prompting a special joint meeting between supervisors and the school board.

After an honest and direct conversation, it all ended with this conclusion: There are many needs, many thoughts on how to accomplish them and little time to act.

School leaders proposed a budget which allows for schools to bring on 22 additional teaches. Lynch wants more money to go towards the paychecks those teachers will take home.

"This is now 2018, and we have a crisis," said Lynch.

Supervisor Tyrone Nelson says if the county only focuses on teachers, what message would it send to bus drivers, first responders, and public works crews, who all serve a vital function? That led to the question - what's the school board's priority?

"We are actively working on ways to make teaching in Henrico a desirable career choice by improving working conditions," said School Board Chair Michelle Ogburn.

While no teacher would turn down a pay raise, Godwin High Teacher Jennifer Andrews says it would also help to re-examine how Henrico pays its teachers.

"Someone with seven years of experience is getting paid the same amount as someone with zero, one, two or three years of experience," said Andrews. "You're not going to stay around for 25 to 30 years in Henrico. You're going to go to another school system now to get a higher pay now."

As the school board flushes out its priorities, leaders say they need to hear directly from teachers themselves. As that process begins, the Board of Supervisors will await an updated recommendation before the budget year ends on June 30.

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