Staunton Schools Aim to Make Teacher Salary More Competitive

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Budget issues are plaguing Staunton as the city struggles to keep teachers from leaving for surrounding areas with better pay. But the Staunton School Board has voiced its commitment to paying teachers more.

When it comes to salary, a compensation study shows a first-year teacher in Staunton ranks third when compared to six surrounding school divisions, including Waynesboro and Augusta County. But 10 years in, they're at the bottom of the list and stay there for years 15 and 20.

Human resources director Jon Venn says the majority of their teachers fit into this category.

“Roughly 77 percent of our teaching staff fall basically between step zero and step 20,” Venn said.

Superintendent Linda Reviea says Staunton has to look at surrounding divisions.

“If all you do is build your budget based on your information then you end up where we are where you aren't necessarily as competitive as what you might want to be in,” Reviea said.

In a working budget, Reviea proposes a 3 percent raise as a starting point and, with board support, a long-term plan to get Staunton back into the game.

“This incremental approach is going to be based on unequal pay for different employee groups, but an average across the board of about 3 percent,” Reviea said.

A survey conducted by school administration shows that roughly 80 percent of all school employees support unequal pay raises to improve standing. Venn says that while Staunton is generous with its health plan, they're not cutting it.

“At the end of the day it's how much are you seeing in your paycheck, if you're seeing less than surrounding divisions,” Venn said. “And it's hard in terms of recruiting teachers. It's hard to retain teachers when you can live anywhere in this area and you can work in Waynesboro and you can work in Augusta County.”

The budget is over by $1.5 million, but Reviea is sharing her proposed budget with the board on March 11.

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