(This article may also be found on the VEA website at http://www.veanea.org.)
VEA Will Fight for 3-Percent Pay Increase
Flanked by presidents of six local Associations and VEA Vice-President Meg Gruber, VEA President Dr. Kitty Boitnott Wednesday told reporters that VEA will seek a 3-percent salary increase for public school employees in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.
"It is time for the Commonwealth of Virginia to step up and provide state funds for a modest salary increase for Virginia's hardworking school employees," Boitnott told reporters at a press conference in Richmond.
VEA is calling on the General Assembly to budget the state's share of a salary increase for every public school employee covered under the Standards of Quality (SOQ). That includes teachers and other education professionals as well as hourly workers.
During the news conference, Boitnott pointed out that many school employees are working their third consecutive year without a pay increase, and some, due to furloughs or increases in health insurance premiums, are earning less.
"As I travel the state, I meet educators every day who share their stories of hardships," she said. "They are doing exactly what the Governor and the Secretary of Education asked them to do last year at the end of the General Assembly session. They are doing more with less. But they are fast reaching the point of diminishing returns."
In response to a reporter's question, Boitnott said low pay and a lack of respect are making teaching a less attractive profession. That's especially alarming given that the Virginia Retirement System reported that the number of school employees opting to retire this year went up 43 percent. "Teaching is becoming less and less attractive as a career," she said. "We need to address that and address it fast." A 3-percent pay increase is a necessary step, but more steps will be required to move Virginia teachers toward the national average in pay, she said. Virginia teachers now lag the national average in teacher pay by $5,351.
The next session of the General Assembly kicks off January 12, 2011. To see VEA's complete Legislative Agenda, click here. And if you have not already done so, be sure to send your message to your state representatives supporting our 3-percent pay initiative. Click here to get started. It only takes a few minutes, and your support is critical!
Read Boitnott's full statement here.
Photo: Dr. Kitty Boitnott is joined by Vice President Meg Gruber and local Association presidents at Dec. 8 news briefing. From left: Dominic Melito (Virginia Beach), Wanda Perkins (Arlington), Angela Dews (Richmond), Boitnott, Gruber, Michael Hairston (Fairfax), Bonnie Klakowicz (Prince William), and Frank Cardella (Chesterfield).