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Cabell BOE backs a statewide pay raise

Dec. 18, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Members of the Cabell County Board of Education became the latest educational entity to throw its support behind state legislation that would provide multi-year salary increases for the school employees.

The board unanimously approved the resolution during its regular meeting Tuesday night at the Cabell County Schools central office in Huntington.

The legislation would provide the first salary increase for teachers in about five years, said Denis Chapman, a veteran teacher and member of both the West Virginia Education Association executive committee and the Cabell County Education Association.

Earlier this year, West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee called for a pay increase for teachers to take place during the next legislative session, and the resolution passed by board members included several points Lee has made during his campaign.

West Virginia currently ranks 48th in average teacher salary, compared to 30th in 1993, according to the resolution, and 50 percent of the state's educators will be eligible to retire in the next five years.

According to data from the National Education Association, the average starting salary for a teacher in West Virginia is $32,435, which is lower than all of the states surrounding the Mountain State.

With an average starting salary of $43,003, Maryland offers the highest rate of pay among West Virginia's bordering states, and Ohio offers the lowest average starting salary among those border states at $33,035, according to the association.

With Cabell County bordering several school districts in Ohio and Kentucky, Chapman said the need for raises was especially apparent.

"On the agenda tonight there was a woman who was leaving Cabell County to seek employment in another school district," Chapman said. "We get that almost every meeting. The Cabell County Board of Education in the last few years has been very good in listening, working and trying to get teachers salaries up to where we can keep teachers. If the state would do the same thing...we could probably keep our teachers."

Board member Skip Parsons voiced his support for the resolution during the meeting.

"The state of West Virginia has spent millions of dollars on facilities for children to go to," Parsons said. "They've spent pennies on educational staff and support staff, and that's a shame."

Each board member signed a copy of the resolution, which will be forwarded to local legislators and the governor by Superintendent William Smith.

Members of the Wayne County Board of Education also approved a similar measure during their regular meeting Tuesday night in Wayne.

Another note from the meeting included a report from Smith about a staff meeting that took place earlier Tuesday regarding the 2013-2014 school calendar and how new provisions to the West Virginia Code and State Board Policy will affect how the board can craft the calendar.

School administrators still are responsible for making sure students participate in 180 instructional days during the calendar, but the provisions allow for somewhat more flexibility in making that happen, said Jedd Flowers, communications director for Cabell County Schools.

Smith said another new provision requires the board to have two public hearings before making a final vote on the calendar.

Flowers said administrators in each county are free to use their own method to plan the calendar. In Cabell County, school administrators form a committee including teachers, principals and parents from elementary, middle and high schools who come up with a few calendar options that they submit to the board office. Administrators narrow those options down to three calendars on which faculty and staff vote, and the calendar they select goes to the board for final approval.

Flowers said the board will host the public hearings once faculty and staff have voted on a calendar but before it is submitted to the board for final approval.

No dates have been set for the public hearings, Flowers said, and no action was taken by board members regarding next year's school calendar during the meeting.

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