School Board approves 2% teacher raises

Published 5:59 pm Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Isle of Wight County’s School Board has approved a 2% raise for teachers, which will take effect Jan. 1.

Coming up with the money to fund it, however, will fall to Isle of Wight’s Board of Supervisors.

Virginia’s General Assembly in a special September session passed legislation allocating $54.5 million in state funds to give public school employees a 2% raise on top of the 5% raises that took effect in July in accordance with the state’s 2022-24 biennium budget, for a total 7% increase this school year.

According to Chief Financial Officer Larisa Harris, Isle of Wight County Schools has been allocated $312,221 to fund the raises for the minimum number of employees required under the state’s standards of quality. Isle of Wight, like many other Virginia school divisions, hires well in excess of the minimum.

The Board of Supervisors, as the school system’s local funding authority, will need to vote to add the state money to Isle of Wight County Schools’ 2023-24 budget and come up with an additional $485,616 in local money to extend the 2% raises to all employees, Harris said.

Unlike the state-mandated 5% raises given at the start of this school year and the prior one, the additional 2% is optional. However, were Isle of Wight to decline the additional state money on grounds of wanting to forego the local match, “we would be one of the very few” in the state to do so, Superintendent Theo Cramer said, and would be at a “significant disadvantage” compared to larger school divisions with which Isle of Wight competes for teachers.

“We’re already one of the lower-paying divisions in the area relative to some of our neighbors,” Cramer said.

Isle of Wight’s teacher pay scale for the 2023-24 school year offers a starting salary of $49,000 for 200-day contract teachers with no prior experience, while neighboring Newport News public schools offers a minimum of $52,710 and Suffolk offers $53,000.

The School Board’s vote to approve the 2% raise passed unanimously with board member Denise Tynes absent.