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General Assembly bill may not give teachers raises after all

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- It was heralded by lawmakers as a victory for teachers. The passage of an amended state budget that raised teacher salaries by two percent.

Governor Bob McDonnell celebrated the passage in a letter to lawmakers last March saying, "This is the year we are finally addressing teacher compensation with a two percent raise."

But when you call area school boards, you quickly find not every school system is giving teachers raises.

That's because under Virginia law localities must also contribute dollars to any increase in teacher wages.

This legislation complies with that to say teachers would only get the raise if the local school board provided money for raises too.

"Our teachers across the state were mislead to believe it was an automatic thing," Kim Grey, a member of the Richmond School Board, said.

In the greater Richmond area, Chesterfield and Petersburg teachers are scheduled for the two-percent raise.

Richmond is scheduled to give teachers a one-percent raise, but Hanover and Henrico teachers are scheduled to receive no increase in pay.

"The economic climate of the past four years has required the school division to reduce staff, thus preventing us from providing raises to our existing employees," Linda Scarborough, a spokesman for Hanover, said.

"Henrico County Public Schools has navigated these unprecedented economic difficulties without resorting to layoffs or furloughs. In addition, we granted a 2.372% raise in 2011-2012, as well as a 5% raise in 2012-2013 to offset employee contributions to the VRS. State funding (approximately $2.3 million) would cover only a fraction of the total cost of a teacher raise in 2013-2014 (approximately $6.3 million). Under the unified pay plan, school and general government workers receive raises at the same time, so the local costs would be even greater. We decided the most prudent course of action would be to next consider a raise in 2014-2015," Andy Jenks, a spokesman with the school system, said.

Governor Bob McDonnell's office issued the following statement:

"Governor McDonnell worked closely with the General Assembly to provide the first state supported teacher pay raise in five years. The priority of the governor was to reward hardworking teachers by allocating the state’s share of a pay increase. The Governor and General Assembly provided the state share of a 2% pay increase for all SOQ funded positions. Teachers are local employees and localities always pay for their portion of state appropriated teacher raises. That is how the funding formula in Virginia works. Governor McDonnell hopes that localities will join state government in making the difficult budget decisions to ensure that they fund their portion of teacher raises to help, attract, retain and reward our terrific teachers in the classroom."