Albemarle Teachers Could See Higher Wages

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

February 1, 2006

Virginia ranks below the national average for teachers salaries, but Albemarle County is hoping to improve those numbers.

The Albemarle County School Board had a public hearing to discuss this year's $142 million budget, which is up about 11 percent from last year. A majority of the comments were about the teachers.

"Not only do they go above and beyond their call of duty, you just can't find a more dedicated bunch of teachers," said parent Maria Marano. "As a parent, I will do whatever I can to support them and I would like to request that the school board do the same."

Parents in particular spoke out in favor of increasing teacher's salaries.

"We are 8th in terms of the economy of the Commonwealth, but we're below the national average in terms of what we pay for teacher salaries," said Sue Friedman Chair of the Albemarle County School Board.

This year's budget improves salaries, especially veteran's pay by about 10 percent.

"We're doing very well in Virginia, but the Commonwealth, i.e. state funding needs to step-up to the plate and more fully fund teachers salaries," said Friedman.

Several others spoke to increase the time nurses were on duty to six hours a day in elementary schools.

"I shutter to think in this litigious age what would happen if a child becomes seriously ill or severely injured and there was not a trained medical expert, such as a nurse on staff that could respond in a timely fashion to the situation," parent Debbie Vermillion.

Other issues of concern were increasing teaching assistants in Kindergarten and 1st grade as well as adding more guidance councilors in middle and high school.

Several people also asked for increased art, music, and research programs. The school board has one more work session and hopes to vote on it on February 9th.

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