NORTHAMPTON: Schools work to increase salaries for all

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BY STEFANIE JACKSON, Eastern Shore Post —

The Northampton schools’ proposed fiscal year 2025 operating budget, which could reach $27 million and currently has a deficit of $2.5 million, prioritizes raises for teachers and school staff.

“We’re behind everyone in the region” when it comes to salaries, Superintendent Lisa Martin told the Northampton school board at a meeting earlier this month.

Among starting teacher salaries in Virginia, Northampton ranks 79th out of 131 school divisions, with a starting salary of about $45,000 for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree.
Northampton falls further down the ranks as salaries are compared for teachers with increasing levels of experience.

For a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 30 years of experience, Northampton ranks 121st, offering a salary of about $60,000.

When comparing salaries for teachers with five to 30 years of experience in Region 2, which includes Accomack, Northampton, and 13 school divisions in and around Hampton Roads, Northampton ranks last.

Martin said teacher salaries for fiscal year 2023 were used in the comparison because fiscal year 2024 data was not yet available.

Northampton schools provided teacher raises of up to 7% in last year’s budget.

Martin said the school board must set the starting teacher salary at $50,000 and “decompress” the salary scale, ensuring each step on the salary scale equals one year of experience and includes a 1.25% increase for each step, up to year 30.

These teacher salary adjustments will cost about $1.1 million.

“I came to you last year and said I wanted to do it in a three-year plan. Unfortunately, the word on the street is that some of our neighbors are already going to set their beginning pay scale at $50,000, so for us to wait, we won’t be competitive,” Martin said.

She also wants to provide “a step increase and a flat percentage, an average of 5%, for all of our other staffing positions,” at a cost of about $462,000.

The proposed budget provides an additional $20 monthly contribution toward the cost of health insurance for eligible positions.

It also increases Northampton schools’ minimum wage to $14 per hour, effective July 1.

An increase to $15 per hour is scheduled for July 1, 2025, so that Northampton schools will comply with the Virginia minimum wage of $15 per hour that will take effect Jan. 1, 2026.

Also included in the funding request is a math specialist for Northampton Middle School, budgeted at $80,000; 16 bus monitors, budgeted at almost $174,000; and an additional custodian, at a cost of $35,000.

If the Virginia General Assembly does not provide additional funding for public education in the state budget, the school division must ask county supervisors to cover the $2.5 million budget deficit.

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