The Fairfax County Council of PTAs voted last night to urge higher salaries for teachers than the school superintendent has recommended and rejected a proposal to criticize a work slowdown being staged by teachers to protest the pay package.
Superintendent Robert R. Spillane has said he will ask the School Board for a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for teachers next year; for a $20,000 starting salary for new teachers, who now make $18,385; and for higher pay for the most experienced teachers. The amount is less than half the cost-of-living adjustment sought by the county's two teacher associations.
To protest that offer, the Fairfax Education Association and the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers began "work-to-the-rule" actions this month in which teachers refuse to work after school hours on voluntary jobs such as advising clubs.
At a sparsely attended meeting at Lee High School in Springfield, the council -- the umbrella group for Fairfax's PTAs -- voted 53 to 1 to urge higher pay for teachers than Spillane recommended. The resolution pointed out that most of the raises will go to teachers at the top and bottom of the salary scale, and urged more pay for the teachers in the middle.
The resolution also asked the School Board to pay for teacher salaries first, even if other "desirable items" are not funded. "This is where the priority is," said Pat Hanlon, county PTA budget chairman. "This is the year of the teacher."
The council then voted 48 to 5 for a resolution urging representatives of the superintendent, teachers and county Board of Supervisors to meet this month and agree on a better pay package.
The group rejected a proposal approved by its executive board to condemn work-to-the-rule as a disruption of education.
"We have no right to tell teachers that something they are legally permitted to do they must stop," said A. V. DiSilvestre of the McLean High School Parent-Teacher-Student Association, who proposed the successful resolution. "We may not like it," he said of the work slowdown, "but we are not coming out against it. We want to resolve the damn thing."