Nearly 48 hours after city council voted not to fund a 2 percent raise for Portsmouth Public Schools teachers and staff, the superintendent announced he has found a way to still make it happen.
Tuesday, the Portsmouth City Council voted 6-1 and approved a $193 million operating budget for Portsmouth Public Schools for the 2018-2019 school year. While that included a $400,000 increase over the city’s contribution last year, it didn’t include $1.9 million the superintendent wanted for the raises.
“I strongly believe our teachers need a raise in order for us to maintain and attract staff,” Superintendent Elie Bracy told school board members Thursday.
Bracy’s plan would free up $773,000 by eliminating seven positions.
Four would come from currently vacant foreign language teacher positions and the 3 would be clerical positions, two of which are also vacant. There will also be a 1 percent decrease in spending for expenses like travel and conference registration.
The remaining money will come from an estimated $600,000 increase in sales tax revenue from the state.
“We are still waiting on the final state budget,” Bracy said. “So this all could still change.”
In a visit to Norfolk’s Norview High School Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam told 10 On Your Side he knows teachers are in a tough spot.
“One thing that I’m already aware of and that’s teacher salaries in Virginia,” Northam said. “The average teacher salary in Virginia is $9,200 less than the national average, and so if we’re going to recruit and retain talented teachers we need to pay our teachers.”
The Portsmouth School Board could approve the amended budget at their next meeting.