The Commonwealth of Virginia's Ultimate Blog

Monday, March 07, 2005

Why can't we afford raises for 67 assistant principals?

The Virginia Pilot says that the pay raises for teachers aren't enough.
The raise only applies to the minimum number of workers required under state law governing education, the Standards of Quality.

But no one employs only the minimum - schools opt to offer services that the public wants and expects, such as smaller class sizes and school nurses and security monitors. And they won't give raises only to some employees.

In Virginia Beach, for instance, the state covers about half of its 7,300 instructional positions, said Victoria L. Lewis, the schools' chief financial officer.

State standards call for 55 middle and high school principals - the Beach employs 91. The state says 15.3 elementary school assistant principals are enough - the Beach has 67.

Similarly, Liverman operates one elementary school that, under the SOQ, requires only four first-grade classrooms, although each would have 30 students. Instead, all of Suffolk's elementary schools participate in a state initiative to reduce elementary class sizes, so this school has an additional first-grade class - and teacher.

"I'm not going to recommend to the board that we provide raises for just SOQ positions," Liverman said.

There's more. The state raise is based on an average salary - say, $52,500 for elementary school assistant principals, Lewis said. But her city pays $62,600 on average, she said, just as many divisions pay higher-than-average salaries.
So, the SOQs, which last year the Virginia Senate was holding out as some sort of gold standard, are no longer enough. When VB voters wonder why they are paying $500/month in property tax on their home, look no further than your school nurses, hall monitors, and 53.5 extra assistant principals.

Also, CFO Lewis defensively notes that many districts pay higher-than-average salaries. I know the difference between the median and mean, but I'm going out on a limb to guess that approximately 50% of districts pay more than the average.


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