Piedmont District School Board member Rachel Bynum has hinted of a full-court press to secure a Rappahannock Schools budget for FY20 that would provide the 4 percent salary increase for teachers and staff proposed by Schools Superintendent Dr. Shannon Grimsley.
“Now that we have a well-constructed and detailed budget proposal . . . we need to be prepared to lobby for it so that it will be intact for our Supervisors to vote on,” Bynum writes to parents and other residents of her district.
“Administrator [Garrey] Curry has proposed a county budget that . . . doesn’t provide for both a 4 percent staff raise and a School Social Worker,” Bynum noted. “There will be considerable pressure to remove one or the other from our budget.”
A December 2018 Virginia Education Association study of nine Piedmont area school districts found Rappahannock had the lowest starting teacher salary (bachelor’s degree) at $40,742. Beginning teachers’ pay is higher in Clarke, Culpeper, Fauquier, Frederick, Madison, Page, Orange and Shenandoah, averaging in the $42,000-$43,000 range.
A recent Rappahannock Schools’ survey on budget priorities, with 52 percent of the 233 respondents being school parents and 30 percent community members, had 67 percent identify teacher/staff salaries as “most important for consideration in the next school budget.”
“Administrator Currey is proposing $75 thousand less than the Superintendent asked for, which is equal to about 1 percent of our proposed salary increases, or the Social Worker position,” Bynum explained.
“I think it is important to keep both modest teacher raises and a School Social Worker in our budget. In my view, Rappahannock Schools need both in order to provide needed services to kids and families, and remain competitive with surrounding counties in terms of salaries. All of our neighbors have Social Workers (except Madison, who has an equivalent position), and all are already above Rappahannock in terms of teacher starting pay, even before their Boards institute mandated and additional teacher raises.”
While Curry’s FY20 budget recommends “no tax increase” for county residents in 2020, it still provides for a 3 percent cost of living allowance increase to county employees, a minimum 3 percent salary increase to RCPS teachers, and 100 percent operational funding to the county’s seven fire and rescue companies and Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.
Grimsley’s proposed budget, which includes the 4 percent salary hike, requests a $131,342 increase from the county’s general fund. Curry’s budget provides a $56,342 increase, or $75,000 less than requested, which is the value of a 1 percent salary increase.
The School Board held a budget work session this past Tuesday. The Supervisors will convene a public budget hearing on April 29 at 7 p.m.