Lynchburg City school employees one step closer to pay increase

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Teachers in Lynchburg are one step closer to a pay increase.

School board members met Tuesday for the first time since teachers held a rally for higher wages.

It was standing room only at Lynchburg City School Board meeting Tuesday night.

The message was simple: "These real life, hard-working, multiple-job-having people are still being financially devastated by this freeze, but we fully expect that to change tonight," said Karl Loos, the Lynchburg Education Association President speaking to board members.

The pay scale for Lynchburg teachers froze in 2007.

That means an educator like Loos, who's been teaching for 27 years, gets paid as if he were there for 16 years.

Teachers rallied for a change last month; and at Tuesday's meeting, school board members delivered. "So tonight the board was able to agree pretty much on a dollar amount which is pretty much 2.4 million dollars," said LCS Superintendent Crystal Edwards. “When you look at what we need to have happen for children, the most important resource that a child has is a staff member that is working with them, so in that respect that’s the ‘why now.’ I’m sorry it took a long time to get here but I’m grateful we’re making some progress moving forward.”

It's an overall personnel increase of about 4.62 percent.

That averages to 3 percent per employee based on a pay scale for the 2019-2020 school year.

The proposal also includes a pay raise for all employees the following school year and alternating pay raises through 2024. "We're absolutely ecstatic about tonight," said Dunbar Middle School teacher Joson Fleshman.

He says it's a step in the right direction and a win-win for everyone. "It's not just a victory for teachers, its victory for our instruction assistants, it's a victory for our school bus drivers this is a victory for everyone in Lynchburg City Schools."

The board still has to finish the rest of next school year's budget, they will then take it to City Council for approval.