About 15,000 District of Colombia emplotes, about half the city's work force, will soon get the pay raises and bonuses they were promised in a contract settlement last November.

Mayor Marion Barry has signed three-year contracts with six unions, chiefly the American Federation of Government Employees and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, providing raises of 5 percent for 1982 retroactive to last Nov. 1, plus a one-time 3.2 percent bonus.

A dispute over technical language involving Barry's no-layoffs pledge had delayed a final agreement, but the mayor's office said that has been resolved.

City Council Chairman Arrington Dixon said that in order to speed the payments he has agreed to ask the council to forgo its normal 60-day period for review of employe contracts. But he and other council members criticized the mayor for delaying so long that the review had to be shortened. A similar waiver was given by the council on a controversial police contract.

The new contracts provide a 7 percent raise next October and a 6 to 8 percent raise in 1983, depending upon the Consumer Price Index.

On another matter involving city finances, a group called Parents United for Full Public School Funding said the city schools need at least $274 million next year to keep existing educational programs intact.

Squaring off for a City Council budget hearing today, the group accused Mayor Barry of "wishful thinking" in contending that $263 million would pay for all programs, compensate for losses of federal aid and prevent layoffs of teachers. The Board of Education has proposed a budget of $289 million. Neither figure would provide for possible teacher pay increases.

If schools are to be improved, the parent group asserted, the budget should reach $297 million. That would decrease class size, improve school equipment and supplies, add teacher aides and security officers and provide improved services for handicapped pupils, they said.

Barry has argued that his budget reflects declining school enrollments and has urged school closures. The parents said their higher proposal reflects both factors, but that the mayor has understated costs of energy, equipment and repairs.

Virginia may not be building many new highways in the Washington suburbs, but it is taking steps to improve the carrying capacity of roads already there.

The state Highways and Transportation Department said it will spend about $17.5 million for traffic control devices on the region's four interstate routes: 66, 95, 395 and 495. These will include message signs, signal lights, vehicle-counting devices and traffic-monitoring video cameras.

Even if former Rep. Charles C. Diggs Jr. (D-Mich.) is refused the apprentice mortician's license he is seeking in Maryland, a hearing examiner in Michigan says Diggs should be permitted to practice that profession in his native state.

Gregory Holiday, an administrative law examiner, said in an opinion released in Lansing, Mich., that Diggs' federal conviction on 11 counts of mail fraud and 18 counts of falsifying congressional payroll vouchers "is the only evidence tending to bear negatively on Diggs' character. The conviction, standing alone, is insufficient to negate present good moral character" needed to qualilfy Diggs for keeping his Michigan license.

The conviction led to a prison term and Diggs' resignation from Congress in 1980. Holiday's opinion is a recommendation to the Michigan Board of Mortuary Science.

Although professionally qualified, Diggs was required by Maryland law to obtain an apprentice license as a first step toward gaining a full license. It was denied, but Diggs' lawyer said an appeal will be filed.

Lawyers for the U.S. Department of Justice asked a judge in Baltimore to force Maryland to provide state income tax refunds of an undetermined amount to members of Congress from other states who have lived in the Washington suburbs since 1939. That was the year Maryland enacted a state income tax.

When a federal law restricting local taxation of lawmakers while serving in Washington was upheld last year by the Supreme Court, the question remained whether those who had paid are entitled to refunds.

"I just don't see why Maryland needs to keep this money," U.S. District Judge Frank A. Kaufman said following arguments. "Having lost the main battle, I don't see why the state should resist refunding this money." However, he put off a ruling on the case.