By SHANNON WATKINS
The Pulaski County School Board agrees that something needs to be done to keep quality teachers in the system.
According to a presentation made at the Board’s budget meeting Tuesday night by Pulaski County Human Resources Director Dr. Shirley Perry, Pulaski offers lower salary and less benefits to its long-term teachers than they would receive in other area school systems.
“The goal is to bring Pulaski [teacher] salaries to average,” said Dr. Perry.
The Board agreed that this is an important issue. Said Chairman Mike Barbour, “Some of our neighbors have made a concerted effort to compensate their most experienced teachers. We certainly have lost experienced teachers in recent years. It’s a very profound difference in what an experienced teacher is compensated in Radford and Wythe County. We need to be competitive in every salary range.”
Perry noted, “We do well up to year 21, then we drop off.” Her goal is to address this discrepancy and launch a new budget that will compensate teachers who have been in the school system long-term. Her plan “transitions nicely from year 19 to 20 and year 30 to 31.”
Barbour later echoed this, pointing out that while the salary deficiency is notable in teachers who have been in the Pulaski school system for 21 to 30 years, teachers in the range below 20 and above 30 years’ experience receive salaries and compensation about equal to teachers in the same range in surrounding areas.
It was noted that while most other local school districts pick up between 87 and 100 percent of the cost of insurance for teachers, Pulaski County only covers about 67 percent.
When asked later why this was the case, Superintendent Dr. Tom Brewster said he believed it was a mix of “increasing insurance premiums along with decreased state funding.”
Perry’s plan, if adopted, will cost approximately $140,000 in the upcoming year, $160,000 in the second year of implementation, and $150,000 in the third. The reason for the fluctuation is the number of teachers moving in and out of the target group as the years go by.
The plan will be voted on in the next budget meeting on March 14.