The Fairfax Education Association (FEA), which represents most of Fairfax County's 7,000 teachers, is threatening to "escalate" its 10-month-old work-to-the-rule job action next month unless the county board approves funds for the $347 million school board budget.

At last week's meeting of the FEA representative assembly, it was decided that "in the event the board of supervisors does not fully fund the 1981 school board budget, the president (of the FEA) should call an all-member meeting on April 30 to consider escalation beyond work-to-the-rule."

According to FEA president Gerry Gripper, escalation of the job action might take one of several forms.

"As I see it, there are three possibilities beyond work-to-the-rule: slow-down, sick-out and strike," Gripper said.

County teachers voted last spring to begin a job action directing teachers to work a prescribed number of hours and to do no work outside the classroom. The action was taken to protest a 5.15 percent pay increase in fiscal year 1980. At the time, teachers said the amount of the raise was inadequate. y

The FEA executive board considered calling off the work-to-the-rule action last December, when the school budget -- with an 8.5 percent pay increase for teachers -- was made public. The board opted, instead, to wait until the pay proposal was actually approved.

"We realize this is a very, very difficult budget year," concedes FEA president Gerry Gripper. "At the same time, the percentage we agreed to -- 8.5 percent -- was based on last year's figures. We're still talking about being well below the actual cost of living for this year.

"No one needs to tell teachers what the cost-of-living has been in January and February," Gripper said.

While admitting that full backing of the proposed school budget is unlikely, Gripper says small budget cuts may not force retaliation by teachers.

"It depends on how drastic any cuts might be," Gripper said.

The supervisors are scheduled to take final action on the county's budget April 28, following three days of public hearings. The FEA has encouraged teachers to testify in support of the school board's budget request. e

In other actions, the teacher's association voted to rescind its June 1979 vote of no-confidence in the school board, to show its appreciation for the board's budget, which Gripper has labeled "realistic."