Fairfax County School Superintendent Robert R. Spillane announced a teacher pay package yesterday that increased the size of his previous offer, but the president of the county's largest teacher association said she will continue plans for a vote on a "work-to-the-rule" protest.
Spillane told a news conference that his package would raise average teacher pay by 7.3 percent, including a 4 percent cost-of-living increase and a grade increase. He called it a "very good-faith effort."
But Fairfax Education Association President Donna Caudill said she will ask her 6,300 members to vote on a "work-to-the-rule" policy -- refusing to correct homework or do volunteer work after school hours -- in protest. She said teacher morale is the lowest she has seen in more than a dozen years of teaching.
Spillane's package includes a $20,000 starting salary for new teachers, who now make $18,385 a year; a $750 increase at the top of each salary classification, and a $40,000 salary for the most veteran teachers with master's degrees.
He said the increases for starting teachers and veterans are "breaking two very symbolic barriers . . . . This puts us on the leading edge." Fairfax County would become the first system in the area to pay a $20,000 starting salary.
Spillane's announcement of the pay package followed a breakdown in talks over the weekend with the FEA, which had been of- fered a 3.4 percent cost-of-living increase and $395 at the top of each salary grade.
According to Spillane's office, the average teacher salary, now $29,275, would rise to $31,412, a 7.3 percent increase. Depending on experience and educational credentials, other teachers would get raises ranging from 5.9 percent to 21.9 percent.
Caudill told a news conference that she applauds the increases for starting teachers and veterans, but she said two-thirds of the teachers in the school system would not get substantial increases.
"I like the movement . . . but there is not enough movement," she said. Caudill said the entry-level salary should be at least $25,000 a year to attract talented college graduates.
She said FEA members will vote on the work-to-the-rule proposal over the next two weeks.
Rick Nelson, president of the 820-member Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, said the Spillane package "stinks" and that his members would meet next week to decide how to respond to it.
The same sharp criticism was evident yesterday in the halls of Woodson High School in Fairfax, where several teachers said the pay package would hamper the system's efforts to hire and keep good faculty members.
"What a slap in the face!" said one business teacher who, like others, did not want her name used. "Who's going to go into teaching with this?" agreed another teacher.
"Look at that," the first teacher commanded, pointing at the proposed salary scale showing a teacher with a master's degree and nine years of experience making $29,000. "You've got kids coming out of college making that."
Down another hallway, a teacher with 20 years of experience said he moonlights two nights a week to make ends meet. "It's like throwing crumbs to the pigeons," he said, "and we're on the ground trying to pick them up."
Spillane's proposal will be included in the budget he submits in January for School Board approval; the Board of Supervisors has the final say. Teachers and other public employes in Virginia have no collective bargaining power and thus no legal right to strike.
The salary increases would cost the school system $26.3 million, two-thirds of that for the cost-of-living raise for teachers and other school system employes.