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We compare starting teacher pay across Hampton Roads

Is starting teacher pay keeping up with inflation?

NORFOLK, Va. — Money could be tight this year for teachers just starting their careers.

High inflation, low pay, and empty classrooms are problems across all of Virginia, but it's especially bad in Hampton Roads.

"Virginia just hasn't been keeping up with inflation," said Chad Stewart, a policy analyst with the Virginia Education Association.

"When we consider inflation over the last few years that has been eating away at people's pay, a lot of divisions within the Hampton Roads region haven't really seen a real pay increase for their starting salaries over the past three years," Stewart said.

When it comes to starting teacher salaries this year, Portsmouth ranks highest in the region at $53,598, while Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Hampton aren't far behind. Newport News pays $52,710 and Virginia Beach this year dropped from first to last, at just under $52,000.

Virginia Beach is the only local city to not increase starting teacher pay this year. The other cities are paying between three and seven percent more to new teachers.

Credit: Dan Kennedy/WVEC

A spokesperson with VBCPS said the school division instead enhanced pay for existing teachers, at an average salary increase of 10%. Outgoing VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence told 13News Now in an interview this August that teacher pay is not where it needs to be right now.

"I think it's a great opportunity to work with our governor, work with our General Assembly, and advocate for teacher compensation and make sure that teachers in Virginia are compensated as well or better than other states, particularly in our region," Spence said.

Spence pointed to a recent nonpartisan study in the Virginia General Assembly that found the Commonwealth has been chronically underfunding education.

Stewart said it is up to both the state and cities to pay teachers better, and he points to other schools outside of Virginia that are doing that right now.

"More and more, we're seeing divisions in states throughout the country setting the minimum threshold at $60,000 for starting pay, and that seems to be fairly effective at getting people in the door initially," Stewart said.

If competitive teacher pay was like a final exam, Stewart said Hampton Roads would get a failing grade.

"I don't think there's almost any locality in Virginia that would be passing the test for competitive teacher pay," he said.

The Virginia Education Association tells us that with low pay, comes teacher shortages.

Stewart said the region with the highest teacher vacancy rate in all of Virginia this year “by far” is Hampton Roads.

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