Chesterfield schools proceeding with teacher salary increases; graduations coming May 25, 27

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Although Chesterfield County Public Schools are waiting for a Fiscal Year 2023 budget to be adopted by the General Assembly, school officials are proceeding with salary increases for teachers. 

During a May 10 work session, the schools’ Chief Financial Officer Robert Meister said the increases will range from 8.6 to 8.8 percent. For beginning teachers, the new salary will jump from $46,000 to $49,481. 

In addition, he said the schools will keep substitute pay at $101.50 a day along with $203 on Fridays and high demand days. 

The funding is part of an $899.7 million budget approved by the county board of supervisors on April 6 that included $36 million for teachers, Meister said. 

The teachers’ salary increases are part of Salary Study I. The school district plans to proceed with a multi-phase implementation of Salary Study II in the coming years, which will address pay compression and the market average, he said. 

Aside from investing in the workforce, the school district would like to also address student needs and infrastructure, but those will have to wait for the state’s budget adoption. 

Meister was hopeful the General Assembly would reach a budget agreement by late May in time for the school board to address it on June 7. However, if that fails, they could call a special session on June 24 prior to the board of supervisors’ June 29 meeting, according to board chair Ann Coker (Bermuda). 

The state has 15 days from final adoption of a new budget to produce a calculation tool for school districts to determine funding, Meister said, adding that he hopes they won’t use all of those 15 days. The state is required to have a budget by June 30. 

“The staff behind the teachers are waiting in limbo” for contracts, board member Debbie Bailey (Dale) said. 

“The achievement gaps that are a result of COVID are real,” board member Kathryn Haines (Midlothian) said. “We need an investment that Virginia has not yet seen before in education.”

She was hopeful the state’s budget would lean more toward the Senate version.

Shawn Smith, school district spokesman, noted that it will be a compromise between the Senate and House versions. Reconciling a reduction in grocery sales tax revenues will be one point under discussion, he said. 

Also during the work session, the chair of the district’s School Health Advisory Board said they are recommending that future elementary recess periods be expanded from two 15-minute periods to two 20-minute periods as a way to respond to pandemic-related mental health challenges. In addition, the board recommends that recess never be taken away from a student as a form of punishment or used as a time to do make-up work. 

The board also recommends teachers not use food or candy as rewards in the classroom on a regular basis. 

New school principals 

Superintendent Merv Daugherty announced several new school principals for the fall, including Rashaud Johnson at Falling Creek Elementary and Bryan Hicks at Carver Middle. Rashaud Johnson is currently the associate principal and will replace Pamela Johnson, while Hicks is the acting principal and being promoted to permanent. 

Lesley Harris, principal at Chester Early Childhood Learning Academy, noted they have 365 students in their first year and have the capacity to be at 418. The school offers the Virginia Preschool Initiative for students from families at 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level along with Head Start and Early Childhood Special Education programs. 

CECLA serves students who will attend 12 elementary schools, including Bellwood, Bensley, Beulah, C.E. Curtis, Ecoff, Enon, O.B. Gates, Harrowgate, Marguerite Christian, Salem Church, Elizabeth Scott and C.C. Wells. 

As part of the consent agenda, the board approved a new alternative school accreditation plan for Carver College and Career Academy, which has been under one since 2011, according to Principal Stephen Hackett. 

The school board will meet June 7 at 4 p.m. for a work session and 6:30 p.m. for a business meeting. 

High school graduations

Daugherty noted that the district’s high school graduations are coming soon. 

Following are the dates and times for those in the Village News’ coverage area.

Wednesday, May 25: Meadowbrook, 10 a.m.; L.C. Bird, 2:30 p.m.; and Thomas Dale, 7 p.m. All are at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

Friday, May 27: Matoaca, 9 a.m.; Carver College and Career Academy, 1:30 p.m. Both are at Virginia State University. 

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