Prince George seeks to raise teacher’s wages in upcoming budget

By Zach Armstrong

PRINCE GEORGE, Va -- Prince George Superintendent Lisa Pennycuff presented, at a recent special school board meeting, her intentions to raise teacher’s salaries in the new school budget.

The FY22 proposed budget increases funding for the category of instruction 5.1% going from $47,236,502 in the original FY21 budget up to $49,646,990.

The target date to consider the approval of the budget is Monday, March 1 at a School Board meeting and, once adopted, must be submitted to the Board of Supervisors no later than April 1.

County Administrator Percy Ashcraft is scheduled to submit his proposed budget to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, March 9. The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve the County’s FY22 budget on Tuesday, May 11.

The budget includes the restoration of the previous salary scales, providing a step increase and revised scales; an average increase of $2,800 to $3,200 for those on the Teacher Salary Scale and a minimum of a $1,000 raise for those on the Support Staff Scale; an increase to healthcare costs of 7.97% and requires a request for, at a minimum, level funding from the County.

During her presentation, Pennycuff noted the importance of retaining and recruiting quality teachers and the challenges Prince George School Division has faced.

Prince George School’s starting salary for teachers is 10th of the 15 divisions of its region with approximately 70% of competitors offering higher starting salaries. Approximately half of all PGCPS Teachers have 0-10 years experience and the other half make up the 11 years or more experience with 35 of those having more than 30 years experience.

A shortage in teachers for the areas of Special Education, Career & Technical Education, Mathematics, Foreign Language, Prek-12 secondary english and secondary history/social science are having an impact on instruction in Prince George Schools.

PGCPS has 24 teaching positions that have been unfilled the entire year with 19 of those for special education and five for general education. 9 contractors were hired for related special education services and special education teaching positions. There are currently 7 positions currently not filled in the area of special education.

PGCPS has 39 “provisionally licensed” teachers which require guidance to navigate the provisional process and successfully complete a path to full time renewable licensure. Two international teachers were employed for secondary Math due to a lack of options available locally. Currently, 14 Long-term substitutes are used to cover unfilled vacancies.

PGCPS filled approximately 67 teaching positions for the FY21 School Year.