Fairfax County's two teacher associations will seek smaller class sizes and bigger salaries in contract talks this month with the area's largest school system, association officials said yesterday.
The 6,300-member Fairfax Education Association will ask that no class be larger than 24 students, said Barby Halstead-Worrell, FEA executive director.
"When you begin getting too many kids in there," she said, "you are not able to give quality time to each kid."
The rival 800-member Fairfax Federation of Teachers wants no academic class to be larger than 30 students, President Rick Nelson said. Nelson said smaller class sizes might require hiring some new teachers, but "much of the problem could be addressed by balancing out classes."
The county's current class maximum is 35, and the median size for most academic classes in the intermediate and high schools is in the mid-20s, Nelson said. Both teacher groups said elementary classes already are small.
The FEA's initial bargaining position calls for a 20 percent salary increase, including $22,000 for beginning teachers, who now receive $18,500. The Fairfax Federation of Teachers wants a 12 percent salary increase this year as part of a 25 percent raise over three years.
Teachers received a 4 percent raise this year, but school officials sweetened the increase by adding three paid snow days to the regular year.
Virginia law does not allow collective bargaining or strikes by teachers. But the two associations meet each fall with school personnel officials to outline their desires for next year's contract. The county traditionally has announced its salary offer in mid-November for its 7,000 teachers and for other employes.