By Shauna Johnson
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A reworked teacher pay raise proposal moving in the state Senate sets a legislative goal of raising salaries for all starting teachers in West Virginia to $43,000 by 2019.
“We knew that this was going to be a long-term plan that would have to be in place,” said Dale Lee, West Virginia Education Association president, on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline” of the goal.
Members of the Senate Finance Committee will next consider the proposal that would provide a $1,000 across-the-board raise for teachers in the coming year along with a two percent pay increase for school service personnel.
In his State of the State Address, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin had proposed a two percent pay raise for all teachers and school service workers along with $500 more for all other state workers. The cost of his pay raise proposal was estimated at around $34 million.
Supporters said the Senate plan would help new teachers more because the $1,000 raise would be greater than the two percent for those at the lower end of the pay scale. “Right now, we have to address how we can address these (teacher) shortages,” said Lee.
In the years ahead, though, Lee said more will have to be done to bring up teacher salaries overall. “Our intent is to raise all the salaries by the 2019 (time),” he said.
Lee said he is happy the raises are a priority in a tight budget year when many state agencies have been instructed to cut their budgets by 7.5 percent.
“What it shows is that everyone, the governor, and particularly, so far in the Senate, recognizes that we have to do something to make our salaries competitive with our surrounding states,” he said.
Currently, starting teachers in West Virginia earn around $31,000 annually. For the first 35 years of teaching, incremental pay raises of 1.5 percent are automatically implemented each year.
According to estimates from the National Education Association, starting teachers earn roughly $41,000 in Pennsylvania, $43,000 in Maryland, $35,000 in Kentucky, $33,000 in Ohio and $36,000 in Virginia.
A number of factors contribute to those salaries, which can vary based on education and experience.