Teacher advocacy groups have come out in support of Superintendent Jack Dale’s proposal to raise teacher salaries as part of next year’s budget.
Fairfax Education Association, Association of Fairfax Professional Educators, and Fairfax County Federation of Teachers have said they are glad the budget addresses the need for teacher raises.
Dale’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2012, which amounts to $2.2 billion, includes a 2 percent raise for current and future Fairfax County Public Schools teachers. More than 85 percent, or $1.9 billion, of the proposed budget would go toward classroom instruction if approved, Dale said.
Dale presented his budget to the Fairfax County School Board on Thursday. The board will host public hearings on the budget Jan. 24 and 25 at Luther Jackson Middle School at 3020 Gallows Rd. If approved, the budget will go into effect July 1.
To read more about Dale’s proposal, click here.
“Our goal is to be number one in the region,” Dale said about the school system’s starting teaching salaries, which is currently $44,000. “We are focusing a lot of our resources on our employees.”
Dale said the board suggested the 2 percent raise for the county’s teachers over the summer. For the last two years, Dale said the teachers have had their salaries frozen. The starting salary for teachers would jump to $44,880 if the budget, with the 2 percent pay increase, is approved.
“It’s time that we recognize the hard work and dedication of our teachers and give them a raise,” Dale told the board.
Bretton Zinger, president of the AFPE, said the raise would be a step raise over time and would also include a 2 percent cost of living increase.
“While we would have preferred to see a greater cost of living adjustment, we are heartened to see the administration and school board making teachers and other employees their first priority in this proposed budget,” Zinger said in an e-mailed statement Thursday. “It’s too easy for the school district and county administrators [to] say they value the great work teachers are doing while they are increasing class sizes, thus increasing teachers’ workloads, and freezing salaries.”
Steven Greenburg, president of FCFT, believes an increased starting salary would attract more qualified applicants to Fairfax County schools. He said it’s good the pay increase is being discussed but wants to see more than just talk.
“However, attempting is not delivering,” Greenburg said in the e-mailed statement. “We will only be glad when the budget is approved with the compensation increases in it. Promises do not pay your bills.”
Assuring the teacher’s pay increases become a reality falls on the shoulders of the teacher advocacy groups, said FEA President Michael Hairston. The process is a long one, he said, but ultimately the budget relies heavily on funding from different entities.
“We understand the economic situation we’re in right now,” Hairston said. “The most important thing now is the county transfer.”
Dale told the board he would ask the county for $48.8 million more than the $1.6 billion received for 2011. He pointed out that 75 percent of the budget comes from the county. More money is needed to bring in more than 200 new teachers to help teach the more than 177,000 students projected for the next school year. Dale said 500 more kindergarten students than expected enrolled this year.
From fiscal years 2009 to 2011, the number of students enrolled in Fairfax County schools has gone up by at least 2,000 students each year, according to FCPS statistics.