Bowing to community and staff pressure, the Fairfax County School Board last week approved two measures it had repeatedly rejected: a new salary scale with modest raises for administrators, and permission for Waynewood Elementary School to keep its tile gymnasium floor.
The board had been unable to resolve either issue for more than a year. Members wrangled for hours over technical points before finally approving them last Thursday night.
The administrative salary proposal had been a political football for so long that even longtime observers were shocked when it finally passed.
Superintendent Robert R. Spillane repeatedly had submitted proposals designed to award raises to assistant principals, guidance directors and other school-based administrators who he maintains are underpaid compared with their peers in the region. However, the board had rejected him each time.
To satisfy critics, Spillane proposed merging the salary scales of administrators assigned to schools and those who work in central offices, a move that will cost $371,000 for the rest of this school year and $891,000 next year. After pressure from the Board of Supervisors, the School Board once again tabled that plan in November.
Frustrated by the continual delays, more than 100 administrators showed up at last week's meeting to apply their own counter-pressure -- a rare move for people who consider themselves management.
The board rejected a motion by member Nathanial Choate (At Large) to delay a key portion of the plan on a 9 to 1 vote and eventually approved the final proposal unanimously. The administrators filling the hall at Luther Jackson Intermediate School, where the board meets, reacted with sustained applause.
By merging the scales and raising the salary categories of some school-based positions, the school system will give some administrators raises of up to $1,924 a year on Feb. 1.
The proposal rankled some teachers, who will receive no cost-of-living raises next year. The smaller of the two teachers unions, the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, has complained that administrators have received disproportionately large raises in recent years and that Spillane has underestimated the fiscal cost.
On the Waynewood issue, the board reversed its vote of last month and agreed not to carpet the gymnasium of the Fort Hunt area elementary school.
Parents and coaches had lobbied vigorously for more than a year to keep the school system from installing a nylon all-purpose flooring known as Pro-Gym, saying it could cause injuries and hurt after-school basketball and roller-skating programs. School officials have said none of the 40 other schools that have been carpeted have complained.
A motion by board member Armando M. Rodriguez (Mount Vernon) to exempt Waynewood failed last month on a 5 to 5 tie.
But after more pressure from the community and the county supervisors, who appoint the School Board, members Carla M. Yock (Mason) and Joanne T. Field (Dranesville) switched their votes last week and the measure passed 7 to 3.
The board rejected 6 to 4 a move by member Laura I. McDowall (Annandale) to make the exemption contingent on the county supervisors' finding $31,000 to pay for the extra costs of laying new tile.