Teachers feel conflicted about approved salary raise


Photo courtesy of: Alexa Stadler

Teachers raise concerns that inflation rates will erase any possible benefit of the approved salary raise.

Alexa Stadler, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Henrico County staff is receiving a historic raise for the upcoming school year. John Vithoulkas, the County’s Chief Administration Officer, proposed an 8.2 percent pay raise for HCPS employees. The raise will take effect in the 2023-2024 school year. It will be the largest division-wide salary increase in 33 years. Most staff is pleased with the raise and the upward trend of teachers’ salaries in the county; however, many also acknowledge that they may see little change in their standard of living, as the rate of inflation in Virginia is expected to increase by 6.45 percent before the 2023-2024 school year begins.

   “When you do the math, the pay increase is essentially just a cost of living raise. It’s not going to make a major impact on us, and they are acting like it would,” physics teacher Matt Wilson said.

   Some administrators across the county know what their teachers deserve and have advocated with increased salary to support teacher recruitment and retention.

   “Our teachers work hard, our staff works hard, and they need to be fairly compensated,” Highland Springs High School Principal Dr. Kenneth White said in an interview with NBC12 News.

   Some county teachers agree that the raise will help with retention, but also believe the adjusted salary scale will still not meet the amount of work done by staff.

   “This raise is really just an incentive to stick around. The dollar amount on my paycheck is never going to match the amount of work I put into this, but I still expect to be treated like a professional and to be given the latitude that a professional deserves. This treatment and respect is yet to be given to us,” math teacher Liz Marshak said.

This raise is really just an incentive to stick around.

— Math teacher Liz Marshak


   Wilson agrees that teachers still will not be compensated fairly for their work even with the raise. 

   “My pay should be based on the value of my work. Based on that, my pay is not equal to the significance of my work. My contracted hours are from 8:30am until 4:30pm, and I am being paid to work during these hours. Yet, I am working, answering emails, grading, etc. during all hours of the day. The value and time of my work is not being met,” Wilson said.

    Other teachers agree that the raise, while significant, won’t be enough.

   “It feels as though the county is placing a tiny band-aid on an enormous wound,” English teacher Julia Ogden said.

   In order to lower teachers’ workload and to better educate students, teachers feel as if class sizes should also be decreased.

   “The raise is nice to see, and shows some effort from the county, but the primary thing that they could do for us is to decrease class sizes. If you decrease class size, you decrease your overall workload, you increase the time per student you have per day. Not only will that help the teacher, but it will help the student. The teacher’s work environment is the student’s learning environment. If they actually want to help students, we need to help their learning environment,” Wilson said. 

   As another benefit to the teachers, Deep Run’s mandatory staff duty during their second planning period will be removed in the fall, resulting in two planning periods for teachers. Staff remains unsure at this point how those duties will be covered.