Eligible Henrico teachers will receive pay bump amid teacher shortage

Some Henrico County Public School teachers will soon have more money in their pockets to help address the dire teacher shortage.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 5:05 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Some Henrico County Public School teachers will soon have more money in their pockets to help address the dire teacher shortage.

School district leaders announced teachers at nine county schools will be eligible for a $3,000 bonus next year.

Henrico Schools are calling their efforts the “Opportunity School” initiative.

The 2023-24 Opportunity Schools are:

  • The Academy at Virginia Randolph/Virginia Randolph Education Center.
  • Fair Oaks Elementary School.
  • Glen Lea Elementary School.
  • Laburnum Elementary School.
  • Elko Middle School.
  • Fairfield Middle School.
  • John Rolfe Middle School.
  • Highland Springs High School.
  • Varina High School.

The school division is down more than 150 teachers. These nine schools combined make up more than 25% of teacher vacancies.

“Our teachers work hard, our staff works hard, and they need to be fairly compensated,” Highland Springs High School Principal Dr. Kenneth White said.

At Springer Nation, White says he’s hopeful the pay bump will attract qualified teachers at a time when it’s extremely competitive to recruit and retain.

“I think it’s the lack of interest in our field, quite honestly. I think pay is huge when you look at folks who need to be fairly compensated for teaching in our field, student behaviors, there’s just a lot of different factors,” White said.

English teacher Savannah Norvell says teachers are feeling the impact of the shortage.

“We are struggling. That is true,” Norvell said.

Norvell says many days she’s spread thin, teaching six of her own classes on top of helping cover multiple others.

“We do have that support. It’s here, but we do need more teachers. We need more people to join our team,” Norvell said.

Norvell says despite being short-staffed, she loves her job. She says the bonus plan is providing hope and optimism among her and her colleagues.

“I know I’m often taking my work home with me, grading papers, working on the weekend. Although, I don’t get paid to work on the weekend, it will be nice to have a salary increase, so I do feel rewarded for that,” Norvell said.

Eligible teachers will be awarded the pay raise next school year, but a more permanent solution to the shortage remains elusive.

“It’s not something we can address and fix right now. It’s something that’s going to take some time in the course of a couple of years,” White said.

Teachers will also be eligible for the 8.2% pay raise county leaders announced earlier this week for Henrico County employees. The money would come from the 2023-2024 fiscal county budget.

Returning full-time Henrico teachers earned a $500 retention bonus at the beginning of this past school year. A $1,000 bonus is also up for grabs.

The average starting salary for a Henrico teacher is around $50,000.

In addition to the pay raise, school leaders say additional staff, including permanent substitutes, teacher fellows and administrators, will also be hired to assist student learning.