Orange County High School

Teacher pay in the Orange County Public Schools is at or near the bottom at all pay grades in a survey of salaries at area school divisions. 

Despite the 3% raise that teachers in the Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) received for the current school year, Orange County still ranks at or near the bottom in salaries across the region, at every pay grade.

That was the dispiriting news that OCPS Chief Operating Officer Gary Honaker delivered to the school board during a recent work session. He explained that the county didn’t fare well in salary comparisons because other area school districts also have boosted teacher pay.

“We lost ground last year,” Honaker said, pointing toward a slide that showed the county ranking seventh out of eight counties in salaries for teachers holding a bachelor’s degree. For teachers in this category with no experience all the way to those who have taught for 18 years, only Madison County pays its teachers less than OCPS does.

A new teacher in Orange County earns $43,518 while one in Madison makes an even $43,000.

Orange County comes in dead last, among area school divisions, in salaries for teachers holding a master’s degree with up to five years of experience. For a new teacher in this category, the salary at OCPS is $46,218 compared to $46,400 in Madison. If teachers have a master’s degree and six or more years of experience, Orange County teachers earn slightly more than their peers in Madison.

In addition to Madison, the other school divisions in Honaker’s table of comparisons are Albemarle, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Spotsylvania. Teachers with bachelor’s degrees in Albemarle County earn more than their peers at almost all levels. After the 25-year mark, however, teachers in Spotsylvania have the highest salary in the school divisions surveyed. 

For new teachers with bachelor’s degrees, Albemarle leads the way with a starting salary of $47,103. Fluvanna is next at $45,450. For those with five years of experience, Albemarle is on top at $50,225 while Greene, paying $47,533, pulls slightly ahead of Fluvanna for second place.

At the 10-year mark for teachers with bachelor’s degrees, OCPS stays near the bottom with a salary of $46,968, about $1,500 more than what Madison pays. Albemarle sets the high bar with a salary of $53,553 and Greene is in second at $49,450.

At the 20-year mark, Orange County pays teachers with a bachelor’s degree $53,070, ahead of both Fluvanna ($52,540) and Madison ($50,127). Albemarle teachers in the same category earn $60,885 and Louisa comes in second at $58,405.

For teachers with bachelor’s degrees and 26 years of experience, OCPS pays $57,705—about $8,600 less than Spotsylvania ($66,297), the top-paying school at that rank. Albemarle slips to second at $65,757.

School board members looked disappointed during Honaker’s presentation. The only comment came from District 5’s Jim Hopkins, who asked Honaker if he could reformat the tables so the colors clearly indicate that Orange County is at the back of the class when it comes to teacher salaries.

“When I show that to the board of supervisors, I want them to see red,” Hopkins said.

Hilary Holladay covers education and politics for the Orange County Review. The author of five books, she is currently writing a biography of the poet Adrienne Rich.

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