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Chesterfield teachers fight for more pay

The board has until April 8 to adopt the budget.
Posted at 10:15 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 10:15:14-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Hundreds of people packed the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday night to plead for Chesterfield County Public Schools funding.

Tessa Schuman was one of hundreds of people who attended the meeting.

"These are our elected representatives, we chose them to represent what we want and now we`re telling them," Schuman said. "Part of the reason we chose Chesterfield is because of the great schools."

The plea came weeks after the Chesterfield County Schools Superintendent Dr. Merv Daugherty unveiled his proposed 2021 budget. The budget would include a three-percent salary increase for teachers and eligible staff members.

"We really need to invest every cent in that budget, I think we need all of it," said Schuman.

The superintendent also said part of the money is aimed at keeping quality teachers in Chesterfield classrooms and ending what he calls a “pay crisis.”

"The proposed operating budget would provide our teachers with the largest pay increase in nearly a decade," said Daugherty. "Chesterfield teachers with a bachelors or master's degree would see between a three and 13 percent increase in their salary. We want to get rid of the compression scale and go back to a salary scale that we believe our educators are rightly due.”

Christine Melendez has been teaching for seven years, two years in Chesterfield.

"I love my students and I love being in the environment of education, but not being able to even afford to make ends meet or get married or work a second or third job is really really discouraging," Melendez said.

Ben Pearson-Nelson, President of Chesterfield County Parent Teacher Association, said he was working to help teachers like Melendez and collecting signatures from other supporters.

"Over 6,815 electronic petitions," said Pearson-Nelson. "So we wanted the make sure the Board of Supervisors knew that we were out and that we were making sure that our schools are fully funded."

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the proposed budget during a public hearing on March 11. The Board of Supervisors has until April 8 to adopt the budget.