Prince Edward School Board may raise substitute teacher pay

Published 12:43 am Monday, October 9, 2023

FARMVILLE – Prince Edward School Board member Susan Kimbrough is concerned. She’s heard complaints from teachers, having to give up planning periods. She’s heard from other school employees, as teachers have to change halfway through a class. The problem is a lack of substitute teachers. As a result, when someone is out, at times Prince Edward pulls current teachers from their planning periods to fill in. 

“Teachers having to give up their planning period on a really regular basis is unacceptable and we have to figure out a way to help them,” Kimbrough said. “Nothing drags down morale worse than to hear your name being called, even if you have to cover half of it and you’re splitting that time among teachers.” 

Speaking at the school board’s Wednesday, Oct. 4 meeting, Kimbrough pointed out the current plan creates issues for teachers, as they can’t spend half of their planning time covering another class and still effectively prepare for their own. 

Email newsletter signup

“I’m really concerned about it,” Kimbrough said. “We need to take a look to see if we can find some money to raise the pay and find some subs.” 

Kimbrough’s fellow school board member Elzora Stiff also wants to fix the problem, which is by no means limited to Prince Edward. Her daughter works as a teacher in Baltimore City Schools and has experienced the same thing. 

“Let’s really look at that,” Stiff said, adding that she’d like to see it made a budget priority as well. 

A growing problem 

As we said, Prince Edward County isn’t the only place in Virginia where this is a problem. And even here, it’s not only focused on substitute teachers. A study released this fall by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found that 10,900 teachers left the workforce across the Commonwealth before classes started back up in August. The issue is that only 7,208 teachers were hired to replace them. 

And it’s likely going to get worse. An estimated 15% of Virginia teachers told the JLARC staff when interviewed that they are “definitely leaving” or “likely to leave” their current job by the end of this school year. By comparison, a similar 2019 study only found 9% planning to quit. Why? Low morale. 

“Nearly three-fourths of teachers reported that their morale is lower since the pandemic. About two-thirds reported they are less satisfied with the job,” the JLARC report states. “Of the teachers who indicated they are likely to leave by the end of the 2022–23 school year, a majority cited the effects of the pandemic—including lower morale, reduced job satisfaction, and higher workload—as a contributing factor.” 

Prince Edward School Board set to discuss

A discussion about increasing salaries for substitute teachers will be held during the November meeting of the Prince Edward County School Board.