Local teachers earn less than average

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FRANKLIN—Most public school teachers in Franklin, Southampton County and Isle of Wight County earn salaries lower than the state and national averages.

According to a salary survey conducted by the Virginia Department of Education, teachers in Southampton County Public Schools were paid an average salary of $44,126 for the 2009-2010 fiscal year, while teachers in Franklin City Public Schools were paid $45,787 and in Isle of Wight Public Schools they were paid $52,513.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last week that the national average salary for kindergarten teachers was $50,380 for May 2009, the most recent month for which figures were available. Elementary school teachers made $53,150 for the same time frame, while middle school teachers were paid $53,550 and secondary school teachers earned $55,150.

The federal report also found that Virginia, as a whole, pays teachers better than the national average. Statewide, kindergarten teachers are paid an average salary of $55,320, while their counterparts in elementary school make $58,320, middle school teachers get $59,000 and secondary school teachers earn $59,980.

Special and vocational education teachers were excluded from the federal data.

Felecia Briggs, a third-grade teacher at S.P. Morton Elementary School who also serves as the president for the voluntary Franklin City Education Association, agreed with the reports’ findings.

“We’ve been under the national average for a very long time,” Briggs said Tuesday. “I don’t know if it’s because of our location or because of budgets.”

Briggs said although the association fights every year for higher salaries for teachers, she characterized the relationship with the school division as a good one.

“We are listened to,” Briggs said. “We came on with a new superintendent, Dr. (Michelle) Belle. She listened to our concerns and took everything into consideration. I feel their hands are tied also because they’re taking (their budget) up with the governor. But we have a good relationship.”

Briggs disagreed with the suggestion that low salaries prevented good, qualified candidates from becoming teachers.

“If teaching is your desire and within your heart, you will do it regardless,” she said.