Fairfax County teachers will staff a dusk-to-dawn hot line next week to talk with residents who want to praise, criticize or ask questions about the teachers' work-to-the-rule job slowdown, Fairfax Education Association President Donna Caudill said yesterday.
Four "talk to a teacher" telephone lines will be open at the headquarters of FEA, which represents most of the county's 7,500 teachers, from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. from Jan. 27-31. The phone number is 323-0400.
Caudill said the telephone tactic is "intended to reach the community that we can't reach any other way" and is "an effort to do something different" to rally support. "If we ask people to call during normal business hours, it wouldn't be as interesting," she said.
The FEA and the smaller Fairfax County Federation of Teachers began a work-to-the-rule job action last month -- working their 7 1/2 contract hours per day and no more -- to protest Superintendent Robert R. Spillane's salary offer for next year.
Spillane proposed a 4 percent cost-of-living raise for all teachers, and additional increases for the newest and most senior faculty. The teachers asked for more than double his cost-of-living raise. The School Board votes on the teacher salary issue and the rest of Spillane's proposed budget Feb. 19.
Caudill said 90 percent of the county's teachers are participating in the slowdown, forcing schools to cancel or reschedule some activities or requiring parents to take over from teachers to sponsor other events.
Spillane has taken a tough line on the job action, calling it unbecoming to professionals such as teachers and saying principals will, if necessary, order teachers to perform vital duties.
FEA officials said a few teachers complained to the association that their principals ordered them to perform such after-hours jobs as chaperoning dances, or attending teacher or club meetings. They would not give further details, and said no formal grievances had been lodged. School system spokeswoman Dolores Bohen said she had heard no such complaints.
"Chaperoning dances and things like that are nice . . . but it's not an integral part of the instructional program in Fairfax County," Caudill said. "They're fringe benefits."