The 4 percent salary increase adopted for teachers as part of next year's Arlington County budget is insufficient, according to the Arlington Education Association, which represents most of the county's 1,000 teachers.
In a formal resolution adopted this week by the AEA and sent to both the School Board and the County Board, the group also claims there was not enough public discussion of salary issues during the budget process this spring.
Marjorie McCreery, executive director of the AEA, said the School Board should have made more aggressive proposals to increase teacher salaries. She also said Arlington, as well as other districts, will suffer a severe teacher shortage in coming years unless the profession is made more lucrative.
"Teacher salaries need to be improved," she said. "Otherwise, kids who are bright and accomplished are going to go other places, and they're going to go quickly."
For the first time, members of the County Board and School Board met together this year and agreed to a uniform cost-of-living increase for all county employes.
Yesterday, several school and county officials said that while they supported that idea, the new procedure may have confused some employes and made them feel alienated from the process.
"Obviously, to make people feel better about the process, something has to change," said School Board Chairman Gail H. Nuckols. "At the very least, employe groups should know they need to take the opportunity to testify on their own behalf."
Nuckols and County Board Chairman John G. Milliken agreed that the question of whether teachers are underpaid needs attention but said it is a separate issue from cost-of-living increases given to all employes.
"I believe teachers ought to be paid more relative to other jobs in society than they are now paid," Milliken said. School officials, not the County Board, should review national studies on the issue and make long-term recommendations, he said.
Although no one in the school system is now reviewing studies on the subject, Nuckols said the board would likely address it soon. She noted that the board also doubled longevity payments for teachers next year and improved pay for substitutes and summer school teachers.