Northern Virginia school boards have agreed to tell Gov. Charles S. Robb that he should not suggest they give their teachers a 10 percent pay raise--as he did last June--unless he also provides the money to finance his proposal.
"Our general consensus was either fund us the full amount or don't ask us to do what we simply cannot afford to do," said Joseph G. Guter, budget director for Arlington schools.
School board members and administrators from Alexandria, Fairfax, Arlington and Prince William counties agreed to draft a resolution objecting to Robb's proposal at a meeting in Manassas Tuesday.
The resolution must meet the approval of the individual school boards before it is sent to Richmond, according to Prince William County spokesperson Kristy Larson. The resolution is being written by that county's school staff.
Robb urged a 10 percent raise for all public school teachers in the state this fiscal year, which began in July, and said he would urge another 10 percent raise this coming fiscal year.
The average teacher's salary in the state last year was $17,009, well below the national average of $19,142.
Robb proposed earmarking $166 million of the state budget for school systems to use for salary increases, an action Robb's aides described as "absolutely essential" to the state's education needs.
While the state has come up with its share of the proposed 10 percent increase, local officials have protested that they cannot afford to come up with the rest of the money.
"It would cost $2.5 million in Alexandria and only $220,000 of that would come from the state," said Alexandria school board Chairman Judith A. Feaver.
"It is a farce for the state to urge a raise of that magnitude, then leave us to come up with the millions it will take to fund it," she said.
Northern Virginia school districts already pay their teachers above the national average and many school board members said they should not be urged to approve a 10 percent pay raise they cannot afford.
Last fiscal year Northern Virginia jurisdictions disregarded the suggested 10 percent and gave teachers a 3 percent raise, touching off teacher protests in some school systems.
Wayne Anderson, the state's secretary of administration and finance, said the state did not require the 10 percent pay raise but only urged that it be implemented.
"We would like the school districts to do their part, but we can't force them to do it," Anderson said yesterday.
"Whenever the state publicly sets a goal and the communities feel their situation is not in accord with that goal, then there is understandably tension. But the goal is a good one and is needed to improve education in the state," he said.
Spokesmen for local teachers said yesterday they disapprove of the school boards' position, saying Northern Virginia teachers have a higher cost of living that offsets their higher salaries.
"It really distresses us to see the county take the state's share of money--increased by 10 percent--but not pledge their own money to raise our pay," said Bill Martin, president of the 6,400-member Fairfax Teachers Association.