NN teachers accuse politicians of playing the ‘blame game’ in push for raise


NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Teachers left from the Newport News City Council meeting Tuesday frustrated, with no answers on who exactly has the power to fund a 4 percent raise.

Two weeks ago, the Newport News School Board passed a 2019 budget that would ask for $3.7 million in additional funding from the City of Newport News to give city teachers the 4 percent pay raise. 

However, when teachers arrived to support the School Board’s move at the City Council meeting, the city budget director had a different take.

“There is sufficient funds within their operating budget to provide that increase,” said Lisa Cipriano in front of the council. 

Many teachers in the chambers expressed dissatisfaction with that response.

“It is not our job to be the go-between the people that are governing the city,” one teacher said. 

Several councilors expressed their support for the school funding. 

“School board members choose to play this out on social media as opposed to being business people and having a meeting of the minds face-to-face,” said Vice Mayor Tina Vick. 

No elected member of the School Board attended the public hearing. Acting Superintendent Brian Nichols did attend, but differed comment to the school district spokeswomen.

“The School Board and the City Council recently held a joint meeting,” Michelle Price said via email. “The issue of teacher raises was not discussed. Instead, the conversation and questions focused on capital needs and improvements. During the meeting, School Board members and Council members agreed to meet again.”

Price did not comment on the budget director’s comments, as she wanted to address it with school budget staff first. 

Teachers said they would continue to push for answers at a public hearing Thursday, April 12. That’ll take place at 7 p.m. at the Denbigh Community Center on Warwick Boulevard. 

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