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‘Can’t Do It All’ in Alexandria
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‘Can’t Do It All’ in Alexandria

Public schools administration considering decreasing teacher benefits, increasing pay.

Alexandria teachers' average total pay-and-benefits, compared to other regional jurisdictions. The third place ranking results largely from a "platinum-plus" health care plan, which may help recruitment but hurt retention, school division administrators say.

Alexandria teachers' average total pay-and-benefits, compared to other regional jurisdictions. The third place ranking results largely from a "platinum-plus" health care plan, which may help recruitment but hurt retention, school division administrators say.

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Alexandria's school division offers more competitive salaries for entry-level teachers (third place regionally) than for those at the top of the pay structure (seventh place regionally).

The public school system will consider adjusting its mix of salary and benefits, in part to improve teacher retention, administrators told the School Board on Tuesday, Nov. 13.

“We have a high floor but a low ceiling — meaning that our first steps, the bottom of our [pay] scale, tend to be higher than our surrounding jurisdictions’, but we top out sooner than other jurisdictions,” said acting CFO Dominic Turner.

For a teacher with a bachelor’s degree, Alexandria offers an entry-level salary of about $49,000, middle of the pack among 10 regional jurisdictions. Entry-level pay for teachers with master’s degrees is $56,000, third highest in the region. The maximum for teachers with a master’s is $106,000, dropping to seventh place regionally.

Overall, teachers in Alexandria receive a total compensation package valued at about $110,000 — third highest among regional competitors, and on the order of $10,000 more than six.

This is due to “a very robust fringe benefit package” in Alexandria, particularly health care, which consultants have called “a platinum-plus plan,” said Turner.

The school division offers has a zero deductible plan, which is “unheard of,” said Dr. Gregory Hutchings, Jr., the division’s superintendent.

As a result, beginning teachers might come to Alexandria to build up their résumés, only to go somewhere else where they can make more, said School Board member Ronnie Campbell. A top-shelf benefits package might become less enticing to older and more experienced teachers, especially if they’re covered under a spouse or partner’s plan anyway, said Hutchings.

“We can’t do it all, right? We’re already giving a ‘platinum-plus’ benefits package. Most people don’t even have that,” he said. “We have to start thinking about, how can we possibly repurpose some of the benefits funds to have a higher salary. … We want to recruit and retain, not just recruit.”

The administration is currently looking into a high deductible plan, said Turner.