When the gavel is struck and Thursday’s Fairfax County School Board meeting is adjourned one fact will be certain: the district’s teachers will earn raises next year.
The question board members will face as they finalize the fiscal year 2014 budget is how exactly to fund those pay increases.
The budget’s main motion calls for school system employees to receive a 2 percent market scale adjustment beginning in January. That means a teacher on a 10-month contract making $60,000 would earn an extra $720 in 2014 and $1,200 in 2015. Part of the funding for the raises will be supplemented by $6.3 million in a onetime incentive payment from Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).
Several School Board members have written amendments for funding the pay increases. Kathy Smith (Sully) has urged restraint this year, considering that the district must address a $30 million deficit in next year’s budget and a $150 million projected shortfall for 2015.
But all of the options that board members have offered also must cover costs related to employees’ mandated contributions to a state retirement program.
Should the board approve the January 2 percent market scale adjustment, that means in 2014 the employees would net about $330 after deducting the required $390 in retirement contributions and that in 2015 employees would net about $810.
Last year, the School Board approved giving employees a 1.25 percent market scale adjustment that, coupled with contributions to retirement programs, netted teachers a raise of about 2.2 percent in take-home pay.
Below are the options that School Board members will present for a vote at Thursday’s meeting. All estimates are based on a $60,000 teacher salary and do not include the $390 to be deducted in 2014 and 2015 for the state retirement program.
• Kathy Smith (Sully) will propose funding a contribution to an employee retirement program that would give school workers an extra $600 in 2014 and 2015. Another proposal would give employees $600 only in 2014.
Smith’s proposals call for taking the savings from either option and using the money for additional raises in 2015. According to Smith’s amendments, the board would then commit itself “to compensation increases in FY 2015 with step increases being the highest priority.”
• Ryan McElveen (At Large) will propose giving employees a step increase beginning in April 2014, which would give school workers an extra $484 in 2014 and $1,620 in 2015. This amendment is the only proposal that would guarantee a step increase in 2014.
• Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield) will propose splitting the 2 percent market scale adjustment over two periods. One option would give employees a 1 percent market scale adjustment beginning in July, when the fiscal year begins, and another 1 percent in January. To pay for the increases, Schultz proposes eliminating some funding increases to elementary foreign language instruction, bus replacement and preventative maintenance. Schultz’s proposal would give employees an extra $960 in 2014 and $1,200 in 2015.