Warren County school board seeks increase in teacher salaries

FRONT ROYAL — The Warren County School Board indicated Wednesday that it would like to raise teacher salaries and seek more county funding, setting up a potential fight with the Board of Supervisors.

Warren County Superintendent Gregory Drescher said during the meeting that he would like to see a one percent raise in teacher salaries in the district. Additionally, he said, the school board should become proactive at passing step increases to raise teacher salaries.

“It’s been so long since we have done any step increases, I would like us to consider making a commitment to passing step increases for the next several years,” Drescher said.

The Warren County School Board members have long stated their desire for teacher salary increases during board meetings. During a school board retreat in August, Drescher and members of the school board gave their support for salary increases, believing that low salaries have led to high rates in teacher turnover.

But despite the board members’ support for increased salaries, teacher salaries in Warren County Public Schools remain lower than in nearby districts.

According to data from the Virginia Department of Education, Warren County teachers received an average of $47,147 in the 2016 fiscal year, the most recent year for which data is publicly available.

That makes the district’s teacher higher-paid than Page County teachers, but lower-paid than teachers in other neighboring  counties.

The district also receives less money in local government contributions than most nearby districts, Drescher added.

“We’re still hanging around the bottom,” Drescher said of the district’s funding per student.

Drescher said that the district has been spending its money wisely.

“Despite the lows in the budget, we’ve done some really good things,” Drescher said.

But even so, Drescher and school board members stated that they would like to see the district receive more funding next year.

During the meeting, Drescher said that he would like to see the district ask the Warren County Supervisors to provide the district with more funding.

“We’ve got to ask for what it takes to run our school system,” Drescher said.

Members of the school board issued their support for the teacher raises and additional funding as well.

During the meeting, Arnold Williams said that the district needed to get its teacher salaries to fit more in line with regional salaries.

“Instead of staying the same, we’ve got to gain” on regional school districts, Williams said.

But whether or not the district will be able to see its salaries creep closer to regional averages remains to be seen. The district has yet to receive official budget numbers from the state.

In addition, the district’s funding from Warren County remains unclear.

Still, during Wednesday’s meeting, the board did make some changes aimed at retaining teachers and providing increased salaries.

The school board unanimously approved of a measure that will give district graduates who complete a teaching program with the district and pass a credentialing test a $3,000 bonus when they are hired to teach in Warren County.

Alan Fox, director of secondary instruction for the district, said that such a move would help the district hire and retain new teachers.