‘We’re the ninth wealthiest state, but our teachers salaries rank 37’

Posted at 7:59 PM, Mar 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-14 19:59:51-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--Petersburg Public Schools Superintendent wants to see teachers get a five percent pay raise.

Right now, Petersburg teachers average about $41,000, an amount well below the state average of $49,233.

It's not just Petersburg teachers with salaries below state average.

A quick check of school systems in our area show some just above but most below the state average.

Both Prince George County and the City of Colonial Heights pay their teachers, on average $51,000.

Henrico County follows, with an average of $50,000.

The average salary for Richmond City and Chesterfield County teachers is $49,000.

Dinwiddie County falls in place at $48,000 and the City of Hopewell average teacher salary is $46,000.

What teachers say about it may surprise you.

A local teacher here in Central Virginia says she is making less now than when she started 14 years ago.

"I actually make less money currently then I did when I began teaching, not necessarily through salary base, but because our expenses have gone up so much," Annie Mickens said.

"I pay more for health care and more for my pension".

After 42 years, Mickens is retiring from the classroom in Petersburg and said that  "the issue becomes the more you work, the less you get paid and definitely the less you get to take home."

She adds that if local and state leaders don't begin to fund teachers better, then many will have to choose between a life in the classroom or providing financial stability for their family -- and it's the students she says who will ultimately lose.

In Virginia, the state average pay for teachers is $49,233 which is 15-percent below the national average of $56,689, a difference of nearly $7,400.

"We're the ninth wealthiest state in the nation but our teacher salaries rank 37," Robley Jones, with the Virginia Education Association says.

So we're not putting ourselves in a competitive position to attract the best and the brightest teachers to Virginia classrooms."

"The public knows that teacher quality is a factor of the quality of education, but what we are seeing is that the leadership in Virginia is not aligned with the public," Jones says, adding that recent surveys show the public is behind better pay for teachers

Petersburg teachers will learn in April if their pay raise is approved by city council.

We will continue to follow this story.