Teacher raises move ahead across Roanoke Valley

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 4:00 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Across the Roanoke Valley, school districts are looking at increasing teacher and staff salaries. The raises come amid a renewed push from the governor and General Assembly.

It wasn’t long ago - only a year - that teacher raises were on the chopping block, an early victim of COVID-19. A planned 3% raise was scrapped from the state budget in 2020 as COVID cut into state earnings.

This year, as revenue has recovered, a raise is back on the table. The latest state budget from the General Assembly has a 5% raise for teachers. The costs would be born jointly by the state and local districts.

“This year we’re really trying to work to give teachers and staff a 5% raise,” said Franklin County Superintendent Dr. Bernice Cobbs.

Cobbs says the salary increase - which will cost the district about $2 million - is vital to making sure the county stays competitive in the fight to recruit teachers.

“It at least gives us somewhat of a level playing ground,” she said.

That playing ground is level because plenty of other districts are also moving ahead with raises of their own. That includes Salem, which approved a 5% raise along with its preliminary budget Tuesday night.

Roanoke City moved ahead with a similar proposal. Between a raise the school board already approved mid-year and another raise next year, the district is on track to hit the 5% mark.

But it’s not just about staying competitive. District leaders, including Cobbs, say the raise is necessary as a thank you to teachers after an extraordinary year.

“Our teachers, or staff have really stepped up to the plate. So if we’re able to give them the 5% raise, that would just be wonderful,” she said.

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