Breaking down what teachers make in West Virginia

Teachers rally at the state Capitol for higher wages and better health care. (WCHS, WVAH)

West Virginia ranks 48th in the country when it comes to the average salary for teachers. So, what does that really mean? And can the governor's proposal of giving teachers a 1 percent pay increase for each of the next five years really lift the state's ranking?

Figures from the West Virginia Board of Education show the average teacher salary in West Virginia is about $45,555, which sounds like pretty decent money in West Virginia.

But like life -- it's complicated.

Teachers' salaries, which are set by the state, start at $32,675. That is for teachers just graduating with a bachelor's degree and no experience.

For a master's degree, that starting salary goes up a little to $35,487. More than 60 percent of teachers in the state have a master’s degree.

At the top end, a teacher with a PhD and 35 years of experience can make just less than $60,000 a year.

Looking closer at that 1 percent pay increase proposal, it is based on 1 percent of the average pay from all teachers in the state.

That comes out to $404, the amount all teachers would receive, no matter how much they make or how long they have been in the system.

Most teachers are paid twice a month, so that boils down to nearly $17 extra a paycheck, or a total of $2,020 over five years.

The House' proposed 2 percent increase doubles that, but only for the first year and comes out to the same dollar amount in the end as the governor's plan.

Teachers argue that won't move the needle. In fact, while it may sound like West Virginia's average teacher salary of $45,555 isn't so bad, the gap with neighboring states is quickly widening.

The average teacher salary in Kentucky is $52,339. The average in Ohio is $57,000. Virginia’s average teacher salary is $51,049. Pennsylvania's average comes in at $66,265, and Maryland’s average teacher salary is at $66,961.

Olivia Morris is a mathematics teacher who has been teaching for four years in West Virginia.

"Is it worth staying here or should I move to somewhere else where my future will give me a better quality of life?” Morris said.

Meanwhile, West Virginia's average teacher salary has not moved from the 48th spot in the nation since 2007.

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