The Bulletin

Proposed pay raise would still leave the average Virginia teacher salary below national average

By: - December 17, 2019 12:01 am

Thousands of demonstrators rallied for better teacher pay and more public school funding during a January 2018 rally at the Capitol. Education groups still doubt that the state’s current spending on teacher salaries is enough to reverse current staffing shortfalls. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Teachers earning average pay in Virginia will get nearly $1,500 closer to earning the national average teacher salary under Gov. Ralph Northam’s budget proposal.

Northam has proposed using $145 million for a 3% teacher pay raise. It’s part of a $1.2 billion package of K-12 education initiatives the governor is asking lawmakers to consider in the upcoming General Assembly session.

The average Virginia teacher salary is $49,457 a year. Northam’s proposed raise will put the average teacher at making just under $51,000 a year.

It’s the second consecutive year Northam has proposed a teacher pay raise, but it still leaves the average Virginia teacher making thousands less than the national average used by the National Education Association, about $59,000 a year.

“Governor Northam’s 3% proposal is a step forward, but we still have a long way to go to pay our educators what they deserve,” Virginia Education Association President Jim Livingston said in a statement. “Our elected leaders must make this a priority.” 

Northam’s proposal requires a local match, which could pose problems for low-income districts that don’t have the funds for their portion of the raises. But Northam also included increased at-risk add-on money, a funding stream that could be used for teacher salaries.

The percentage raise means teachers in some parts of the state will still be making well above the state average and others in rural areas will still fall well below. 

In Arlington, one of the highest-paying school districts, teachers make an average of $78,000 a year, meaning those teachers will take home about $2,300 more a year.

But in other parts of the state, like Southside and Southwest Virginia, teachers’ average pay hovers between $30,000 and $40,000. Those teachers will get about $1,000 more a year — still at or below $40,000 a year, less than the state average.

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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.