At a time when the outlook for increasing teachers' salaries and financing new programs is cheerless, the Fairfax County School Board will vote next week on a $890,789 proposal that would result in salary increases of up to $1,924 for some principals and other administrators next year.

The proposal is to combine two salary scales for school administrators into a single scale to eliminate competition among administrators for salary increases, a change expected to cost the schools $371,162 for the rest of the current academic year and $890,789 next year.

Representatives of the county's two teacher unions said they do not oppose merging the two scales or consequential increases in the salaries of some administrators, provided that the School Board also raise teachers' salaries.

"What I understand is that we're not really talking about a significant raise here," said Maureen Daniels, president of the Fairfax Education Association. "I would rather see them get their raise, and then {teachers} tie in" with their own requests for salary increases.

Everybody should get raises, said Rick Nelson, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers. "We do object when times continue to get better and better for the highest-paid school employees, but times are tough for textbooks, supplies, field trips, class size . . . teachers and kids."

Under the separated pay scales, school-based administrators, ranging from secondary school media specialists to secondary school principals, are paid $37,000 to $80,008, depending on the position and level of experience. Support administrators who work out of areawide and systemwide offices, such as social workers, curriculum directors and area administrators, are paid from $40,029 to $75,148.

If the two scales are merged, the salaries of most positions would have to be slightly adjusted to fit into a single scale, resulting in some modest salary increases.

In addition, school officials propose to step up the earning power of some school-based administrators by moving the positions into higher-ranking salary categories.

Specifically, the salary status of assistant principals, guidance directors and student activities directors would be raised several steps, giving them higher raises than other administrators next year, up to $1,924 in the case of one administrator.

According to a staff report, those raises would help to recognize the growing responsibilities of those administrators over recent years, such as conducting teacher evaluations under a new evaluation system, and handling administrative problems presented by an increasingly diverse student population.

Areawide administrators, the director of curriculum services and area instructional coordinators, positions that are on the pay scale for support administrators, would also be moved up to a higher rank of pay under the proposed new scale, resulting in pay increases next year of up to $1,454 in the case of one.

The school board set aside $1.2 million last year for staff members to merge the pay scales after rejecting a controversial proposal by Superintendent Robert R. Spillane that singled out school-based administrators, such as principals, for pay raises.

Spillane said at the time that he wanted to increase the salaries of school-based officials to keep their salaries competitive with those of other jurisdictions, and because they had been in the forefront for introducing major changes in schools in recent years. Most school board members said then that they opposed the raises as unfair to other administrators.