BERRYVILLE — Clarke County Public Schools needs more state funding to boost teacher salaries, according to Superintendent Chuck Bishop.

Higher salaries would help the school division recruit new teachers and keep existing ones, he said.

The Clarke County Board of Supervisors on Monday presented its legislative priority list for 2022 to state lawmakers representing the county. The presentation came as lawmakers prepare for the General Assembly session that will begin Jan. 12.

Various educational matters are on the list, including a need for lawmakers to “support a significant investment in funds earmarked for teacher salary increases.”

Salaries are a major factor in being able to compete with other local school divisions for new personnel, Bishop told The Winchester Star on Wednesday.

The Clarke County School Board and the supervisors strive to increase salaries each year, he said.

“But it is difficult for us to compete with some of our neighbors,” Bishop said.

Last year, Bishop said, “we lost a number of employees ... who took jobs to the east and increased their (annual) salary by $15,000 to $20,000.”

On several occasions, Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin expressed intentions to increase teachers’ salaries, Bishop said.

Yet “the challenge for the coming budget cycle,” he said, “will be to provide an increase that keeps pace with the current Consumer Price Index ... currently hovering above 5%.”

Another desire on the priority list is for the state to commit more funding to its Standards of Quality (SOQs) for education. Those include graduation and school accreditation requirements plus efforts to ensure that students from all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds have equal educational opportunities, according to the Virginia Department of Education’s website.

And, county officials want efforts to revise the local composite index (LCI) put on hold while school divisions and communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the list shows.

The index is a calculation used to determine a division’s ability to pay SOQ-related costs.

If the state is going to impose “universal standards,” Bishop said, “a locality should not be forced to fund more than its share.”

For several state budget cycles, Clarke County’s LCI has exceeded Loudoun’s, he said.

Loudoun County is “widely recognized as one of the wealthiest localities in the United States,” he mentioned.

Clarke is a rural county, comprised mostly of farmland and woods, with a population of about 14,500. In comparison, Loudoun’s population is about 420,000.

When LCIs for the new budget cycle were announced recently, Clarke’s dropped by 0.0001%, Bishop said.

“In theory, this means that CCPS will receive additional state dollars,” he said. “But in reality, the (extra) amount of money will be negligible.”

The supervisors’ list recommends that the state make teacher licensing requirements “more flexible to enhance the availability of qualified teachers and to address the growing teacher shortage.”

Local school divisions nationwide are facing unprecedented teacher shortages, Bishop said.

“Although CCPS was able to fill all of our vacancies for the current year, many other school divisions in our region were not,” he said.

Making it easier for other types of career professionals to enter teaching would help lessen the shortage, he maintains.

“There is a pathway,” Bishop continued. “But it can often be difficult to navigate.”

Also suggested is eliminating a “support staff cap” implemented as a cost-cutting measure.

The cap was enacted during the Great Recession — the period between December 2007 and June 2009 when America saw one of its worst economic declines.

Support staff includes teacher’s assistants, clerical employees, bus drivers and cafeteria workers, among others, according to the National Education Association.

Bishop said the cap was intended to be “a quick and easy way to cut costs in the state and local budgets.”

“However,” he said, “school divisions realized the value of our support staff and covered the expense locally without state funding.”

“It is important for our legislators to realize that these are valuable positions in our schools and are deserving of some state financial support,” he added.

— Contact Mickey Powell at mpowell@winchesterstar.com

(14) comments

Spock Here

The disrespect and downright dislike for the teaching profession shown in these comments is stunning and depressing. Just like science and medical personnel you mock there is probably no experience, just stupidity

Doc Samson

Aw, someone has the sadz...

Guess what, Mr. Science, teaching is just like any other profession, i.e. you have great teachers and you have terrible teachers. Unlike any other profession, the bad teachers are shuffled around (kind of like bad priests) rather than fired and make just as much as the teachers that consistently go "above and beyond". And, of course, we know you have never been disrespectful towards ANY profession, amiright?

RyanTibbens

Three out of the four comments before mine are absolute nonsense. Each of them supposes that a free market solution to attracting and retaining teachers -- that is, paying them competitive salaries and benefits -- is somehow not a good solution to Clarke's staffing issues. Those commenters seem to believe that concerns about CRT are driving teachers away, yet the superintendent's message is that Clarke is losing teachers to neighboring counties to the east, all of whom have been embroiled in a variety of CRT and equity-related debates drummed up by conservative think tanks and pundits. If CRT is the problem, why would these teachers move to places that supposedly do more of it? The answer is that those places pay more. The other concerns do not matter to most teachers, or, at least, they matter less than compensation. Teachers in Clarke make ~$20,000 less per year than those in Loudoun. If you believe in free market economics, then you should recognize that the incentive structures are leading teachers out of this county. Loudoun and Fairfax both have staffing shortages, which means they'll keep hiring. Losing teachers doesn't just create a staffing problem for the administration; it creates a culture problem within the schools. Great schools have continuity, consistency, and great staff who forge lasting relationships with students. That doesn't happen with high teacher turnover. I'm not suggesting that we make teachers rich, but we should pay them like the educated professionals they are. Healthy schools support healthy communities, so making an argument against reasonable compensation for the people tasked with educating and nurturing our children is really arguing against the community itself.

Catherine Giovannoni

[thumbup]

GreaterThanScott

Terry McAuliffe's first campaign for Governor of Virginia he pledged to increase teacher pay to lift Virginia from it's place at 34th in the nation in teacher pay. Ralph Northam used the same pledge in his election campaign. This past election cycle Terry McAullife once again used that same pledge as after 8 years of his and Ralph Northam's leadership, Virginia was still ranked 34th in teacher pay. Let's hope that Glen Youngkin will actually provide some resources for teachers pay instead of passing unfunded mandates down to our local governments.

Whistle Dixie

Job-hopping from one County to another more populous County proves the point that a teacher's most important aspect of their career is about the salary they earn. This phenomenon is no different than any other job. People tend to move where the money is and teachers aren't "sacred". We have learned just what teachers are made of. (How's that Critical Race Theory that isn't-being-taught working out?)

Giving raises to teachers to keep them in Clarke County classrooms is rather ironic considering how teachers refused to teach children in classrooms because of the COVID fears.

What matters most, the children, or the teachers and their personal desires?

Give state monies to the school children -- they were isolated, emotionally challenged, and ripped off.

And try to remember the Clarke County slogan "Don't Loudoun Clarke."

TheOneAndOnlyNuri

oh wow... gonna say the quiet parts outload yet agaim?

Listen, dude, doing a job for the warm fuzzies only goes so far. How long would you tolerate being underpaid for the job you probably don't do?

KohenCause

Boost salaries for those who for the last 2 years haveing really been in the schools? UNbelievable. And then you calculate the Anti European American theories and the culture shaming that is common fare in public schools these days...How about a PROPERTY TAX RELIEF for those responsibly taking their kids OUT of the public school and sending them to private or home schooling and producing for more law abiding and educated kids than these public schools. We need relief FROM THEM

WINCBEST

I agree 100%. If the teachers want to move let them. That is the problem now by keep raising salaries to keep up with the Jones. Let them pay better other counties and stop making the salaries climb to out do another. I have always heard that they want quality teachers but i can't see the difference between a good teacher and a quality teacher. A good teacher can do the same as quality. It is all in if the student wants to learn or not. I do not care how much experience a teacher has they can't make the student learn. So stop raising salaries to keep teachers and keep it under control. I do not know the pay scale but i think it is more liveable wages than most and you have summers free and every weekend. Sounds like a good job just for the benefits and probably Health care added in. If they want a bigger salary then they can move or travel to DC everyday. Good Bye

Hermit

A good teacher--and that's most teachers--doesn't say, "Well, this kid doesn't want to learn so I'll just write him off and leave him behind and let him waste his one shot at education." A good teacher digs in and makes those kids WANT to learn. And teachers learn--through experience and ongoing training and re-training--a dozen different tricks to turn those kids around, and they know what works for different kinds of kids. Teachers like that are valuable to the school, the community, and the students. They're an investment that pays off. And Clark County is wise to hang on to them. You get what you pay for.

Catherine Giovannoni

[thumbup]

Speduk8r

What you don’t understand is teachers are only paid to work contracted hours. That means teaching is NOT a 12-month position. The whole “summers off” mantra is terribly misunderstood. Teachers are not paid for the time during the summer. Most districts spread the annual salary over 12 months rather than 10 so teachers have income every month. As far as weekends off…theoretically, yes, however, most teachers spend many hours at night and on weekends planning, preparing lessons, and grading papers - none of which is paid time. As a teacher, I resent the ignorant comments about how easy the job is or how teachers didn’t teach during COVID. Keep in mind the state and school districts made decisions. I taught virtually during the shutdown as well as both virtually and in-person when school returned last year. If you think it is easy, I suggest you try it. Keep in mind that continuing education is required that is also not paid for. Are there inadequate teachers? Absolutely. Just as there are inadequate employees in all walks of life. Is it a “good job” as you imply? Yes, it is. Again, perhaps you should see for yourself and get certified to teach so you, too, can have “summers free and every weekend.” It won’t be long before reality sets in and you truly understand.

anon

Outstanding letter. I wish more teachers would comment. Teachers take heat / abuse from the public, parents and admin. You also did not talk about materials you provide for the classroom. Prep done on your own time. Plenty of other items are on the list but teachers keep on going. I thought about teaching almost twenty years ago. I decided to stay with my job where unlike teachers I can go to the bathroom anytime I want. Non teachers have no clue.

Hermit

I taught high school English. My students had to write 8 - 10 page research papers and hand them in before the Christmas "vacation". I told them that if they didn't turn them in before the break, they could mail them to me and I'd consider them turned in on the date of the postmark (so they'd lose less credit for lateness). So that's about 720 - 900 pages, plus the Works Cited for me to read, correct, and comment on. I graded on content, structure, grammar, spelling, and format (including the Works Cited and documentation). I checked their references. I looked for plagiarism. And I wrote extensive comments on what they did well, and not so well, and how to improve. This is how I spent my Christmas vacation.

After the break, I handed the papers back and made a deal with the kids. If they were disappointed in their grade, they could see me after school, go over the paper with me, then go fix it, re-submit, and get a better grade. In other words, I'd read it again, on my own time, of course, at home.

Am I a saint? No. I'm just typical.

And keep in mind all you teacher bashers--as was pointed out in another post, teachers pay for their required continuing education, and pay for their required Masters Degree.

Lots of jobs are very difficult. But don't think that teaching is easy, because it's not.

There's a story about an obnoxious businessman at a party bragging to a teacher about how much money he makes. Then he asked the teacher, "What do you make?" The teacher replied, "I make kids learn."

And there's an old saying, "Those who can, work. Those who can't, teach."

But there's a corollary: Those who can, teach. Those who can't, work."

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