By Ted Shockley
A bill that would have earmarked additional state funding for teachers’ salaries on the Eastern Shore lost momentum in a General Assembly committee and has been shelved until next year.
The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Lynwood Lewis Jr., of Accomack, would have given the Accomack County School Board $2.3 million next year, and the Northampton County School Board $500,000 next year, in a “cost of competing adjustment” to raise salaries for teachers and support staff.
Schools in northern Virginia already qualify for the adjustment because of the competition for teachers among school systems in nearby Washington D.C. and Maryland.
The senate Finance and Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to continue the issue until next year’s General Assembly session.
At a Northampton meeting on Tuesday night, Superintendent of Schools Eddie Lawrence publicly thanked Lewis for “all of his hard work” in connection with the bill. He said many Eastern Shore officials made the trip to Richmond to advocate on behalf of Lewis’ bill.
“It would have brought our teachers’ salaries up close to northern Virginia,” Lawrence said.
A bill remains alive in the General Assembly that would allow Northampton County to enact a 1-cent sales tax to fund school constructions and improvements, and pay down school debt. The proceeds would not go to salaries.