CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Education Association is pushing for a multi-year commitment to make teachers’ salaries competitive with surrounding states.
In its “Competitive Pay Campaign” launched Monday, the WVEA aims to educate the public and lawmakers about what it labeled as a pay crisis for West Virginia teachers.
“It isn’t that we have a shortage of teacher graduates in our state,” said WVEA president Dale Lee. “We have a shortage of graduates that are willing to stay in our state and work at a salary that we offer.”
The average salary for teachers in West Virginia currently sits at $45,453, ranked 48th in the nation. The national average is $55,431.
Lee said the state currently is an exporter of teachers to surrounding states that pay better. The average salary for teachers is $48,917 in Virginia and substantially higher in Ohio ($57,140) and Pennsylvania ($62,569).
“When you have more than 1,500 who graduate at West Virginia colleges with teaching degrees and only attract 400-plus to stay in the state (yet) we have all these other vacancies around,” Lee said. “It tells you that this is a severe crisis we have.”
Raleigh County began this year with 74 vacancies. That is why the WVEA is focusing its efforts this year through the campaign on increasing salaries of educators to a level that is competitive with surrounding states.
“This is about attracting people into the profession and have them become employed in West Virginia and to make education a career—not just a stop along the way to something or somewhere else,” he said.
WVEA officials have not publicized the salary plan they will present to lawmakers. Every $1,000 increase in salary will cost the state about $46.4 million.
“So while we haven’t put a dollar figure on this amount, we know that it has to be a multi-year and it has to be substantial,” Lee said.
Lee claimed the state has tried many reforms, trends and tricks to improve public education in the state, but have neglected the employees that fuel the learning in the public schools.