Suffolk teachers upset with proposed raise for superintendent

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Some Suffolk teachers are steaming about a proposed pay raise for the superintendent.

On Tuesday, the school board will vote on a proposed budget that calls for a 13 percent pay raise for the superintendent and an average two percent raise for teachers.

Speaking before the Suffolk School Board March 9, several teachers made it clear that they have a problem with the proposed budget.

One said, “Teachers have become teachers because we love what we do, but it is becoming harder and harder to remain in our chosen profession when we continually feel underappreciated.”

Another said, “The workload mandated by Suffolk administrative offices is constantly increasing year after year with no reprieve. My plate is full, better yet it is overloaded.”

A third teacher from Crossroads elementary said, “Not only am I again here fighting for decent pay but now I’m faced with the question: Should I stay in Suffolk?”

The Virginia Education Association’s Tidewater UniServ Director, Gail Pittman, told 10 On Your Side that Suffolk teachers make $1,200 to $1,500 below the regional average for the newest teachers and a proposed average raise of two percent next year won’t even cover the rising cost of healthcare.

“The reality is that people who have family health insurance will be taking home less money next year then this.”

Pittman, speaking for the teachers, told WAVY News that they understand that rising healthcare is a challenge for people in many professions right now, but they’re fighting for their own.

10 On Your side asked: Exactly what teachers are asking for?

“I might struggle to answer that. I know that it is a combination of decreased workload and increased salary.” asked to sit down with Superintendent Dr. Deran Whitney, who submits the budget to city council. He denied our request for an interview, but Suffolk School Public Information Officer Bethanne Bradshaw sent us the following response:

The superintendent has always and will continue to be an advocate for teacher pay increases as indicated in his proposed budgets during his tenure. He has included a raise for teachers in every budget he has proposed as Superintendent and will continue to do so. As suggested in our compensation study, we will continue to attempt to maintain competitive and equitable compensation as well as classification over time.”

The school board will be meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday to approve the budget.