Lynchburg City Schools inches closer to raising teacher, staff pay

It was a packed house at Tuesday night's school board meeting. (WSET)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Lynchburg City School faculty and staff are one step closer to getting a pay raise.

The Lynchburg City School Board voted to send its proposed pay schedule to City Council.

Months and countless hours after combing through the numbers and hearing from teachers and bus drivers, the school board members were all in favor of a proposed plan for pay raises.

They discussed the costs in detail in the last work session, and after recent protests where teachers demanded more pay.

Teachers, bus drivers, assistants, and some other positions would get an average raise of 3%, which will vary based on each person's pay scale.

Some school employees say they're thankful, but cautiously optimistic.

"No matter what the city council decides, if they can give you more money in your budget or not, I believe there is wiggle room to accommodate those of us that have been waiting a very long time," said Melissa Chesney, a bus driver who addressed school board members.

"We are here to show our gratitude, to show our support, and to let you know that we will take this message to the community and to city council with you," Karl Loos, President of the Lynchburg Education Association, said.

School officials say this will cost $2.4 million more dollars for salaries and benefits for the next school year than what was budgeted for the current year. The system is counting on level funding to cover it.

The pay schedule would be the top budget priority, with not much funding left over.

"We cannot do large projects, and hopefully, we'll have no surprises," said Superintendent Dr. Crystal Edwards.

They're hoping the stars will align, in terms of state and local level funding, and they say it's a risk worth taking.

"We had to make some priorities, and this year, our priority is our staff, so we're willing to do that," Edwards said.

Board members say this is just the first step. They now have to work on the overall school budget, look at other needs, and then present it all to city council.

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