D.C. Mayor Marion Barry approved a special rate schedule yesterday for guards at city-run prisons that includes a 10 percent raise for entry-level officers. The raise is expected to cost the District $1.8 million next fiscal year.

Barry approved the increase after a Task Force on Correctional Officers found that the District pays them less than other major cities and the surrounding area.

"I have approved this special rate schedule for correctional officers because the District must be able to compete within the local labor market, especially during this period of unprecedented inmate population influx and judicial involvement in our correctional system," Barry said in a statement.

Mary Lynn Walker, a trustee for Local 1550 of the American Federation of Government Employees, said yesterday, "Something had to be done. I'm sure the mayor had to realize that."

"But," Walker said, "it does not solve the issue of pay parity throughout the correctional system as far as the union is concerned. It is a step in the right direction."

The AFGE currently represents about 2,200 correctional officers but is being challenged by the Teamsters Union. An election is set for Tuesday.

The task force said the city had a high turnover of guards after their first year on the job. The new pay scale will raise the salaries of the three entry-level grades 10 percent, 6.2 percent and 3.3 percent.

According to city officials, the new pay schedule will affect about 1,500 guards at the jail and Lorton, located in Fairfax County, and will go into effect Oct. 1. Walker said employes in the affected classifications will also get a scheduled 3.5 percent pay raise Oct. 1.