Fairfax County teachers officially called off their work-to-the-rule rule job action last week. The decision followed the recent approval of an 8.5 percent salary increase by both the School Board and the Board of Supervisors.

Fairfax Education Association members began the job protest last year after the county board approved a 5.15 percent cost-of-living increase for teachers and other county employee. Teachers, who had sought a 9.4 percent increase, said the raise was inadequate and declared they would no longer "subsidize" the school system by donating their time for school projects over and above the number of hours they had contracted to work.

The vote -- which suspends rather than cancels the protest -- was taken as a representative assembly meeting where, observers said, "an overwhelming majority of those present favored ending work-to-the-rule."

Bill Costello, president-elect of the education association, said a small group of teachers objected to the wording of a resolution that called the 8.5 percent increase "a satisfactory salary." Those teachers supported ending the protest as a sign of good faith, but contended that the pay increase was not "satifactory" because it did not keep pace with inflation.

"The word 'satisfactory" was striken and that was agreeable to almost everyone," said Costello.

School administrators said they are pleased that the job action has officially ended, even though most argued that it had lost its effectiveness long before the vote.

In September, administrators admitted they were feeling the effects of work-to-the-rule. Coaching positions were unfilled, clubs went without sponsors and dances were chaperoned by parent volunteers. But as the year progressed, and especially when the 8.5 percent increased seemed within reach, school officials reported little was left of work-to-the-rule.