Battling teacher shortage, Roanoke City raises pay

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ROANOKE, Va (WDBJ7) Roanoke City Schools is engaged in an arms race.

"As I'm sure you've heard there's a teacher shortage nationwide."

And Chief Financial Officer Kathleen Jackson helps control one of the biggest weapons in the war for teachers: Pay.

"That's something that's an ongoing struggle, and so it's all the more important that we keep our salaries competitive," she said.

It's why, Tuesday night, the Roanoke City School board approved across the board raises for teachers over the span of two years, boosting average salary by 3%, and increasing starting salary by 4.8% That means a new teacher in Roanoke would start off making $42,000.

"We understand being a teacher is a challenging job, and we want to make sure that our pay is appropriate," said Jackson.

Appropriate, and ahead of much of the competition. The raise would place Roanoke City teachers well ahead of their neighbors in Montgomery, Franklin, and Roanoke Counties, where starting salary falls below the $40,000 mark. It would equal starting salary in Salem City Schools.

"It's important to us to make sure that we add salary increases when we can," said Jackson.

Part of the reason Roanoke City Schools can raise pay now is an a subsidy from the state government. However, Roanoke City will still foot most of the bill. Overall, the raise will boost spending on instruction to just over $122,000,000.

It's a big chunk of change, but, says Kathleen Jackson, it's worth it for Roanoke students. "We try to spread that word and make sure potential applicants learn what it's like to work here," she said.