Fairfax County Teachers Will Get Pay Raises

In budget approval, school board members divided on how best to keep teacher pay competitive moving forward.

After months of debate on how to fairly compensate Fairfax teachers and keep pace with salaries in other jurisdictions , the Fairfax County School board voted for a $2.5 billion budget Thursday that will give employees a 2 percent mid-year market-scale adjustment  — making good on a commitment from school board members to provide some sort of compensation relief during this fiscal year.

Much of the Fiscal Year 2014 spending plan, which passed on an 8-4 vote, is dedicated to changing demographics and unprecedented student growth — 3,089 students are expected to join the system next year, pushing total enrollment to 184,625.

To view the full budget, click here.

The pay raise was the biggest hurdle in this year's budget, school board members said Thursday night as they debated several salary options.

The school system received $61.7 million less than it had asked for in its annual transfer from the county ; county officials, who could not provide a pay increase to county employees this year, 

The two percent pay increase allows the system to take advantage of $6.3 million in state incentive funding. That money that would not have been available for other salary options put forward by school board members Thursday night — including the creation of an employee compensation reserve, a set of two 1 percent market scale adjustments or forging ahead with step increases next April.

The raise, paid out to employees in January 2014, will mean an additional $740 for an employee making $60,000, schools officials said. After accounting for a mandated 3 percent increase in employee contributions to the Virginia Retirement System shift, that employee will see $330 more in take-home pay.

Some board members said the option was more expensive and  perpetuating a "structural imbalance" with the salary system.

Per their contracts, teachers should receive step increases every year, but the board has only been able to provide one in the last five, during Fiscal Year 2012, Kathy Smith (Sully) said.  In budget public hearings this spring, one teacher said she and her husband, also employed by FCPS, had lost $14,000 from what was promised in their contracts in that time.

A step increase next April, proposed by Ryan McElveen (At-large), would have added $1,326 to the base pay of a teacher earning $60,000 over the course of the next two years, after accounting for the VRS shift.

"We cannot wait another year, our employees cannot wait another year, our structural imbalance cannot wait another year," McElveen said in support of his proposal. "Because next year we will be where we are right now scraping pennies at the bottom of the barrel."

The majority of board members voted against McElveen’s proposal, saying they didn’t want to leave state money on the table.

The board did approve a follow-on motion by Dan Storck (Mount Vernon) that directs new superintendent Karen Garza to fund compensation increases in the fiscal year 2015 budget, with a preference for step increases.

Storck introduced a similar motion in 2010 for fiscal year 2012 — the last time the board successfully approved a step increase.

The motion left Fairfax County Federation of Teachers president Steve Greenburg optimistic about future compensation adjustments, but said "it will require public attention for the need to fund our schools more adequately."

"It won't be easy," Storck said. "It's going to take a clear effort on our part to dig into the budget and make some hard decisions."

Other items approved as part of the spending plan include:

  • $21.7 million to address student membership growth and changes in student demographics
  • $1.4 million to fund five psychologist and nine social work positions

  • $0.5 million to increase support for advanced academics and Young Scholars by $0.5 million

  • $0.4 million to expand Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools (FLES) to three additional schools

  • $1.6 million in grants and Priority Schools Initiative funding to expand FECEP (Family and Early Childhood Education Program) to 100 additional students

  • $1.6 million in increased funding for preventive maintenance

For all budget documents, click here.

How they voted:

Yes: Tamara Derenak Kaufax, Patty Reed, Megan McLaughlin, Dan Storck, Pat Hynes, Ilryong Moon, Jane Strauss, Sandra Evans

No: Ryan McElveen, Elizabeth Schultz, Theodore Velkoff, Kathy Smith

Kevin M May 25, 2013 at 03:59 PM
So a 1% raise (2%/.5 yr) is supposed to keep the teachers happy and the salaries competitive? They've been through years of cutbacks and that's not nearly enough. We owe our teachers and our children much more.
Michael May 25, 2013 at 05:22 PM
It's not strictly true to say that the Board of Supervisors "could not provide a pay increase" to their employees. The truth is they could have, and CHOSE not to. Nobody prevented them from offering a raise. They adopted a tax rate lower than advertised and CHOSE to devalue their employees. It is simply dishonest to suggest otherwise.
Local Resident May 26, 2013 at 02:31 PM
If one looks at the salary scale of a standard teaching contract for FCPS, they would see that a teacher must have a BA/BS and be on step 14 (13 years of experience, plus however many years a teacher has been frozen on a step) or a MA and be on step 11 (10 years of experience plus, again, however many frozen years) to be making $60,000. There has to be a huge group of teachers who are well below that line and whose take-home raise will therefore be considerably less than the $330 advertised by the board looking at a teacher making $60,000. When Fairfax has their newest teachers making the second lowest salaries in the Washington Metro area, only beating out Prince George's County (as per a Washington Post article from last week), does the board realistically think a less than $330 raise is going to suddenly make them competitive with other districts?
MSM May 29, 2013 at 12:20 AM
I have been teaching full time in Ffx Co for 6 years and have TWO master's degrees. I don't make $60,000 - not even close. The salaray info I have at my fingertips at the moment only goes back to 2008...my take-home pay has increased $119.73 in 5 years. I love what I do, so I am not complaining; however, I have seen so many negative comments from people regarding "self-serving teachers" with "summers off" and "greedy teacher unions" etc., etc. While I haven't commented in the past, I thought I would try to set the record straight this time.
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