A group of Falls Church teachers and school administrators has recommended raising the starting salary for teachers from $15,700 to $18,040 next fall.
The group, appointed by the School Board, consists of three teachers elected by the Falls Church Education Association and two administrators chosen by the school superintendent. It made its recommendations at the Nov. 19 School Board meeting. A salary committee traditionally makes recommendations to the board before its budget deliberations.
Falls Church Superintendent Warren Pace, who must present a school budget proposal to the board this month, and School Board members, who will hand their final budget to the City Council in late February, have expressed support for the recommended increase.
This fall, starting teachers in Falls Church made the lowest salaries in Northern Virginia. Starting salaries in the counties of Arlington and Fairfax and in Alexandria were $18,670, $18,385 and $18,200, respectively.
Falls Church School Board Chairman Ellen Salsbury said that the board will be paying a lot of attention to raising beginning teachers' salaries in its preparation of the budget this year.
"We're trying to make Falls Church attractive to new teachers," she said. "We've got to be competitive with other jurisdictions.
"This will probably be a very people-oriented year for the budget."
Wayne Moore, business manager for the schools and a member of the committee, said the school system lost several new teachers this year to nearby jurisdictions that offered higher salaries.
Harry Shovlin, president of the Falls Church Education Association, which represents about 95 percent of the city's roughly 80 teachers, called the proposed increase a "major step" but also a "first step."
Shovlin said the School Board's goal should be to make starting salaries comparable with other Northern Virginia jurisdictions. He estimated that by next fall beginning salaries in other localities "will probably be in the $20,000 range."
Shovlin added that the city's salary for the "average" teacher is comparable with those in other nearby jurisdictions.
Currently, the teacher pay schedule in Falls Church has 16 incremental pay steps that run from "step zero" to "step 15." The zero step is used as a base to adjust salaries as teachers gain experience year by year.
This fall, starting teachers in the city were hired at "step zero," which was $15,700.
In its report to the board, the committee recommended hiring new teachers next year at "step one," which it proposed increasing from $16,485 to $17,640. The committee has advocated giving new teachers an automatic $400 bonus on top of that figure.
Moore said the committee also recommended increasing the base figure from $15,700 to $16,800, which would increase salaries for more experienced teachers.
While an instructor with a master's degree entering his or her 10th year of credited teaching made $28,417 this year, such a teacher would make $31,584 next fall if the recommendations are approved.
On an even higher level, the proposed base adjustment would raise the salary of a teacher with a master's degree plus 30 hours with 15 years of credited teaching from $37,052 to $39,648.
Moore said the salary committee also recommended putting all teachers with 15 years of experience on step 15 next year. The group recommended that after three years, or by the fall of 1989, those teachers be given a $750 longevity bonus and three years later be given another $750 bonus.
The board will consider the recommendations in the coming months as it prepares to adopt its budget by Feb. 19 and pass it on to the City Council.