State Pay Raise

By: Donald Robinson
By: Donald Robinson

"I'm very excited about it," said Tracy Thomas, "I think it shows the state putting forth a commitment."

Words from Waynesboro H.S. teacher Tracey Thomas last week when she heard about the General Assembly approving a pay increase for teachers. But, Thomas had a different feeling when she later learned what that increase really meant.

"The pay increase that the General Assembly approved last week is very deceiving," said Thomas.

Teachers like Thomas feel it's deceiving because the 2.25 percent increase is only for six months, while spread out over 12. Making the pay raise a little more then 1 percent.

"The point you’re missing is the budget cycle," said Del. Steven Landes. "The cycle runs from July 1 to June 30. We are already through the first year of the bi ending, which started last July. June 30 will end the first year, July 1 will start the second year. With the budget situation we can only start the pay raise Jan. 1.

That's Jan. 1, 2004... but in order to pay for that increase the state will have to cut some school programs. And that does not sit well with school officials.

"They are still important and needed in the school system," said Superintendent Dr. Gary McQuain of Augusta County Schools. "These programs were mandates that they had several years ago. We had to do them, now they are taking that commitment and moving it some place else."

Thomas says if the value of the students future is important to the state, then they need to do a better job in supporting the teachers.

"Programs may come and go, but it is only through our teachers that we will really raise the achievement of students," said Thomas.

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