Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 26, 2013

More will move if salaries are cut

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — An Aug. 16 letter commented on property taxes and fire fees. The author of that letter indicated that he didn’t know why firemen needed new equipment. Frankly, I would like the people responding to my home when there is an emergency to have the best equipment possible. That goes for EMT/rescue workers and police as well. Taxes levied for this purpose are a small price to pay for the safety and security afforded to us by our local government.

The letter writer also wrote that “it’s time to consolidate some schools and cut salaries, and if you don’t like it, tough — bag groceries” before lamenting that young people are leaving West Virginia.

As a teacher I have a vested interest in hearing precisely what schools the letter writer had in mind for consolidation, especially since many of my colleagues are already teaching classes filled with 30-plus students.

I also take issue with the notion of cutting salaries. Starting teachers in West Virginia (on average) make just over $32,000. This is lower than most other states, and even when compensating for cost of living West Virginia ranks only in the middle of the list.

Please remember that we are educated professionals. Teachers must earn a four-year degree before taking a job in the classroom. The average salary for a new college graduate in 2013 is over $44,000 according to CNN, a far cry from the $32,000 that we pay our starting teachers. Cutting salaries for West Virginia teachers would simply mean more educated, motivated young people moving out of state for work.

John McCormick