What’s the average teacher salary in Virginia? Depends who does the math, lawmakers find

What’s the average teacher salary in Virginia? Depends who does the math, lawmakers find
Hundreds of teachers rallied after the Virginia Education Association's Delegates Assembly in March in Richmond. Members were pushing for more education funding, especially for teacher salaries. (Source: Mechelle Hankerson/ Virginia Mercury)

To help lawmakers tackle a bipartisan goal of raising teacher pay, state budget staff tried to untangle for them exactly what the average teacher’s pay is in the state.

The takeaway: There are different ways to calculate that number, but it’s clear some districts fall far below any of those averages while others easily exceed those estimations.

Lawmakers realized reaching a uniform average likely can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach.

“I think to look at an average for the state is going to be very misleading,” Del. Joe McNamara, R-Roanoke County, said at the House Appropriations Committee retreat Wednesday.

“In concept, as Virginians, we want to compensate our teachers, but what might make sense in Northern Virginia might not make sense in middle Virginia,” McNamara said.

Members of the Appropriations Committee, including those who lost their election bids, were in Norfolk Tuesday and Wednesday to go over budget numbers and needs. Gov. Ralph Northam will present his budget proposal to lawmakers Dec. 17.

Lawmakers and Northam have expressed a commitment to raising teacher salaries to at least the national average. The teacher pay raise last year, which totaled 5% between the state and local share, still left some Virginia teachers below that average.