About 130 sign-waving teachers picketed the Fairfax County School Board last night protesting a proposal that pay raises be limited to 3 percent.
Such raises are too low "given the current economic situation in Fairfax County," Mike Mitchell, president of the Fairfax Federation of Teachers, told the board after the crowd filed into the board's meeting room at Luther Jackson Intermediate School. "We are not suffering the ill effects of massive unemployment like Wayne County, Mich., or an eroding tax base like many urban school districts."
A representative of the Fairfax Education Association, which represents about 6,300 of the county's 7,400 teachers, said 93 percent of the group's membership voted to censure the School Board and the County Board of Supervisors for setting a 5.85 percent ceiling on budget increases to be requested for next year.
"We recognize and appreciate Superintendent Jack Burkholder's efforts to scrape together as much money as possible from other areas of the budget to provide some salary increase," said Marilyn Rogers, FEA president. "But his efforts were doomed to failure due to the budget ceiling resolution that this board adopted earlier in the year."
The federation of teachers had requested a 7.5 percent pay increase, while the FEA asked for a 6 percent raise.
The teachers who circled in front of the school before the board meeting last night toted signs that read "3 Percent Salary, 3 Percent Work?" and "Who Says Fairfax County Loves Its Schools?" Once inside, they cheered and clapped as their representatives took the podium to address the board, but booed and snickered as the board approved $50,000 salaries for two new administrative appointments and a $56,131 salary to extend a contract for a district school superintendent.
Board members did not respond to the teachers' complaints at their meeting. Board member Chuck Caputo said after the meeting that, although he was impressed with the teacher turnout, "It looks like it's going to be tight economically this year for everyone."