Proposed Newport News schools budget includes 2 percent raise for all staff

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — Newport News Public Schools’ 2020 proposed budget includes staff raises, compression pay and perhaps most importantly, a better relationship with the City Council.

Tuesday’s public hearing in front of the Newport News School Board stands in sharp contrast to the previous year. 

Budget season 2018 in Newport News consisted of a “blame-game” of sorts played between City Council and the School Board, with teachers advocating for a 4 precent raise stuck in the middle.

This year, first year Superintendent Dr. George Parker’s $315.4 million budget only drew praises from the Newport News Education Association.

“I think that Dr. Parker’s original proposed budget, based on the Governor’s proposed budget, is fair, balanced and absolutely appropriate,” said Mary Vause, a preschool teacher and NNEA member.

The FY 2020 proposed budget includes:

  • A 2 percent salary increase for all employees 
  • A compression adjustment to address compression in teacher salary steps 
  • An experience adjustment in certain support staff positions to address compression as a result of previous adjustments to starting pay
  • Raise bus driver salary range by 3.5 percent to improve competitiveness in the regional market 
  • Add $3 million to employer share of health care premium

An estimated $1.3 million of the budget would also be used to fund 15 new positions. 

Six additional guidance counselors the school district thought they would be able to hire under the governor’s proposed budget ultimately had to be cut following the loss of $1.1 million in state funds when the General Assembly amended it, according to Parker.

“The guidance counselor is who you lean on for help as a classroom teacher,” Vause said. 

Vause and other teachers plan to ask City Council to add those funds back in.

Parker is already asking for a $2.3 million increase in city funding over the previous year.

“This year’s budget advocacy before city council will be more successful than last year’s,” Vause assured school board members, who seemed open to the idea.

“There is a lot more communication with city council, something that we pomised last year we would do,” said Gary Hunter, Chair of the Newport News School Board. “If we can get at least half of these counselors, I think it would be a help.”

The board is expected to vote on the budget Tuesday, March 19.

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