Bedford County Superintendent addresses teacher pay and staffing in budget proposal for 2019

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7)-- Thursday night the Bedford County School Board will host a work session to discuss the budget for fiscal year 2019. Superintendent Doug Schuch made a budget proposal at last week’s school board meeting that primarily focuses on teacher pay and staffing.

“I’d like to say the budget primarily focuses on our learners which are our students,” said Schuch. “But to have students succeed in school, you certainly need to have great teachers.”

First, the school system is making sure it has enough teachers at each level. The proposal calls for a siginificant investment in getting staffing levels back to more historical levels. This includes student to teacher ratio at all grades, but especially in the middle schools.

Second, the proposal looks at compensation levels for teachers. Last year the county created new pay scales, brought all employees to the minimum on the scales and provided an experience step. Schuch says this year they are proposing one additional experience step for all employees who have been frozen in their step over the past several years. They would also unlock a second experience step for teachers to help address the teacher shortage.

“We made a good start at that a year ago,” said Schuch. “And this budget allows us to continue that process.”

The proposal also addresses a substitue teacher shortage by slightly raising pay for subs and exploring creative solutions like incentivizing teachers to retain sick days.

Personalized learning is another big focus of the budget proposal.

“We’re distributing 2,300 Chromebooks, something that’s a big undertaking for us as a district next year,” said Schuch. “We’re really committed to personalized learning and one to one education. This budget supports all of those things.”

The Board of Supervisors and the School Board have been working together on budgets for the past few years. Recently, the board has supported them in the construction of Liberty Middle School and projects at Liberty High School. They collaborate on the Capital Improvement Plan together and now this budget proposal will be handed off to the board as well to consider for FY19.

After tonight’s school board meeting, the proposal will be passed on and be discussed further at the Bedford County Board of Supervisor’s budget work session on March 19th.