Co-Presidents Elliot Kendle and Joshua Weekley of Wetzel County's West Virginia Education Association approached the Wetzel County Board of Education Nov. 18 regarding competitive pay for West Virginia teachers.
Information distributed by Kendle shows that West Virginia ranks 48th in the nation when it comes to pay for teachers. This ranking has dropped 10 spots since 2003 and 18 spots since 1993. Average teacher pay in West Virginia, at $45,453, trails the national average by nearly $10,000. The average teacher nationally earns 22 percent more than the average teacher in West Virginia. West Virginia also ranks at the bottom of its neighboring states in average teacher pay. The following are average salaries for surrounding states: Kentucky, $49,374; Maryland $64,313; Ohio, $57,140; Pennsylvania, $62,569; Virginia, $48,917.
The WVEA information distributed further states that average salaries for central office employees and administrators in West Virginia have been set at competitive levels, "far outpacing those of teachers across the state." For instance, teacher salaries in the last 10 years have increased 18 percent. Principal salaries have increased 24 percent; assistant superintendent salaries have increased 30 percent, and superintendent salaries have increased 43 percent.
"It actually seems as though the most important factor for a student's success is a central office employee or county superintendent," the literature states. According to the WVEA, there were 1,541 education graduates in West Virginia last year. "Yet even with all the vacancies we have in our school system, only 438 of those graduates were employed in our schools," the pamphlet adds.
When asked if he felt that the surrounding states have the same number of teachers planning to retire, which could perhaps cause lower pay because of less experience, Kendle stated he did. "It would be similar as us," he responded. "The baby boomer generation moving on."
He said he did not know if other states' schools have the same calendar as West Virginia, which could also influence pay rate. Board member Linda Kirk remarked that a lot of Kentucky schools go year round.
Kendle further remarked, during his presentation, that retired school teachers substitute teaching is a positive thing. "If you look at the Wetzel County Board of Education's sub list, we'd be lost without our retirees," Kendle said. "It's not that the jobs aren't there; there aren't people to fill them." He added, "Raleigh County had a number of teaching jobs open that they couldn't fill. They have uncertified people."
"What's unusual," Kirk stated, "is West Virginia's teacher training is better than many other states."
"We are going in the right direction in education," Board President Mike Blair stated. "But apparently we aren't doing the same in wage packages. Education in our state is a good thing to have."