Archived Story

SPS mulls lifting teacher salaries

Published 10:01pm Thursday, December 6, 2012

Faced with more educators with certain experience levels leaving the district for more money, Suffolk Public Schools is moving to increase some teacher salaries.

A district comparison of teachers’ pay in Suffolk to 14 surrounding districts, prompted by concerns raised in February, was presented to a School Board workshop Thursday.

One-third of resigning teachers leave between years six and ten, according to Human Resources department figures.

After six years in a Suffolk public school classroom, a teacher’s salary, at $40,033, falls to eighth place among districts in Region II. By year eight, the ranking falls to 10th place.

In comparison, salaries of Suffolk teachers with five and nine years’ experience both rank seventh.

“We’re pretty much in the middle, except in (years) six, seven and eight, then we slip … in the ranking,” Director of Finance Wendy Forsman told the meeting.

“Our recommendation would be that we adjust teacher scales six to eight, where we are not competitive with other school districts, and make that a priority of fiscal 2013-2014.”

Superintendent Deran Whitney told the meeting, “When you think about it … that (six to seven years after starting) is the time they start families, buy a home; every buck counts.”

The finance department has looked at several scenarios for adjusting the pay scale, Forsman said.

While Whitney called for “immediate” change to salaries for teachers with six to eight years’ experience with the district, an idea on the potential cost will be presented in January, the meeting heard.

“Whether it will be first priority, second priority (in the 2013-2014 budget), you will have to give direction for that,” Whitney told the board members.

Changing the pay scale is a “great idea,” board Chairman Michael Debranski said, but the state, which has started work on its next budget, could cut funding. “We need to proceed cautiously with it,” he said.

Board member Phyllis Byrum said the district has to retain experienced teachers because “they are an investment in our future growth.”

A Suffolk teacher with nine years’ experience earns $41,258, less than counterparts in York, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Isle of Wight County and — where they would pull in $46,371 — Portsmouth.

After 30 years with the district, Suffolk teachers’ salaries rank third among the 15 Region II divisions, “almost $6,000 above Portsmouth at that point,” Forsman said.

During a later public session on the forthcoming school district budget, Education Association of Suffolk President Wendell Foster urged the board to consider a salary bump for all teachers.

“Unfortunately, despite our success in the classroom, we are falling behind” in pay, he said.

“We are not asking for a dream budget, but a realistic one that will allow us to move forward and become the premier school system that Suffolk deserves.”

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  • TB_suffolklady

    Gingy – you are right. The SPS SB and administration will use the city council as scapegoats again. At the end of the day, Whitney needs to be completely transparent with the money – give adequate raises – and everyone be responsible for what they are supposed to be.

    It’s a gimmick. Here we go again. (Unless people take responsibility)

    Suggest Removal

  • truly

    As I have six years experience, and am still at base pay, I hope this proves true. According to the article, I am definitely NOT making what they say I am.

    Suggest Removal

  • Gingy

    Maybe we should all wander over to the opinion section and read a little gem called “Life’s Not Fair – Get Over It.”

    Besides, let’s get real here. History suggests that no one will get a raise. The SB will just fly this flag in order to get the teachers to pack the City Council meetings again this year, around budget time – then say the City didn’t give them enough money to make these raises a reality. How many times can you fall for the same trick?

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    • am

      Oh, I am quite realistic that this is a gimmick, especially since there was no word of a salary study being done. The first realism step will be that the state has no extra monies for the localities so then the localities will not be able to give SPS any additional monies. Poof go the raises.

      However, given SPS this year, they seem to be finding money for things that they want to spend it on.

      Suggest Removal

  • hteachme1

    I was told by someone who is on the advisory committee the the actual span of years is 6-14 instead of 6-8. The span of 6-8 years doesn’t include too many teachers. My experience on the matter is that most teachers if they leave, leave before the five year time frame. So out of all of the teachers, the ones who would benefit are a very small percentage. That is sad.

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  • suffolk girl

    While losing teachers at any experience level is sad, those of us who have lived and worked in Suffolk for the entirety of our careers should be rewarded too. We the experienced, not just teachers, but secretaries, administrators, nurses, teaching assistants, custodians and cafeteria staff are all integral parts of an effective school. Teachers do not exist in a vacuum. They are not the only ones who are starting families, raising families or counting on their salaries to survive. We ALL are. In a time where we are all being asked to do many things that are not within the scope of our assigned duties, but are not actually in anyone’s ‘scope’, and are necessary to the success of the building you are in, limiting pay increases to a small percentage of employees is an insult to the rest of us. I hope the board will consider the hard work and dedication of all of it’s employees, not just those who happen to have a teaching certificate.

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  • TB_suffolklady

    This is a STUPID idea. By giving raises to only 3 classes (years 6-8) of teachers, you are alienating those with way more experience, who still haven’t seen any pay raises of significance. This just feeds into a negative impression.

    ….”A Suffolk teacher with nine years’ experience earns $41,258, less than counterparts in York, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Isle of Wight County and — where they would pull in $46,371 — Portsmouth.”

    This is just sad

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  • am

    Was this salary comparison done using the SAME districts used by the CM to calculate her proposed salary increase? I’m going to guess the answer is NO. So it leads to the question, why not?

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    • suffolklady

      Excellent point, am!

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    • 1standPunting

      Any study done by schools would have been contracted by schools. They most likely would have a different contractor looking at different factors than what the contractor for the city did.

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      • am

        Not talking about factors, I’m talking about the same cities or counties. If the CM had a pay study done using various cities and counties that share similar traits as Suffolk, then the same cities and counties should be sued to do a pay study for the schools. It doesn’t matter which company is hired to perform the work.

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