STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) -- When it comes to how much teachers are paid, Virginia is near the middle of the pack, but those numbers are much lower in the Valley and one state lawmaker said that's not likely to change.
Republican Virginia Delegate Dickie Bell knows both sides of the argument over teacher pay. He taught for 20 years and now represents the 20th district, so he knows the issue as a state lawmaker as well.
"As long as we have a system where everybody gets the same thing, regardless of performance, then I think we're faced with a situation that we have now. I don't think it's likely to change," said Bell.
According to statistics from the Virginia Department of Education, the average budgeted teacher salary in Virginia is about $52,500.
In the Valley, the average from Augusta County, Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg and Rockingham County is less than $44,000, which is only above Mississippi and South Dakota's state averages.
"As long as we remain low salary-wise, we're going to have a tougher time trying to compete with other localities in Virginia, as well as other surrounding states," said Jay Deck, the area's VEA UniServ Union director.
He also said the state needs to invest more money in teacher pay.
Bell said for that to happen, raises should be based on performance or merit.
"When you make an investment, what you want is the best return on that investment you can get," said Bell.
Both Bell and Deck remind us teachers are considered employees of their locality, not state.
That means much of their salary depends on the tax revenue in their school district while also getting money from the state.
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