WVEA President Dale Lee said he hoped the audit's discussion of teacher pay catches the attention of lawmakers and other state officials. It found that West Virginia cannot compete regionally or nationally with the salaries it offers, even after two rounds of raises since 2008.
Though the report does not recommend specific pay levels, it notes that "it hardly would be surprising to observe that West Virginia cannot hope to attract and retain the highest-quality teachers when it pays them at almost the lowest levels in the nation.''
"Even compared to other education personnel in West Virginia, it would be fair to say that, if what they are paid is an indication, then teachers are the least valued part of the state's education structure,'' the report said.
But Lee also questioned the accuracy of some findings. He cited comparison between West Virginia schools and those in highly populated urban areas.
"Certainly schools in rural WV aren't the same as they are in a Boston or a New York City,'' Lee said.
The report does note the state's rural nature, and found that it may explain the number of administrative staffers when compared to the student population.
"It is hard for parents to place their children in a better school if that school is 100 miles away,'' the report said. "And, in any event, West Virginia needs to do more to attract, train, and retain the best teachers in every school.''
More than a dozen recommendations focus on harnessing technology to allow students to "take any course they want, from any teacher, anywhere in the state - or the world.'' Plymale said classroom technology is another topic that lawmakers could consider this session. He blamed the system's rigid structure for a lack of progress in this area.
"Certainly, I'd like to see something on that as quickly as possible,'' Plymale said.