Loudoun County School Board members are weighing a plan to increase the salaries of certain veteran teachers and those with advanced academic credentials.

The pay increases for the 2001 fiscal year were proposed Monday by Assistant Superintendent Matthew D. Britt IV as his personnel staff is racing to hire 48 more teachers--in addition to the 379 new teachers already on board--before school starts Aug. 30.

School officials have said repeatedly that teacher salaries must be competitive with those offered by neighboring counties if Loudoun is to recruit the best teachers and keep those on staff from moving elsewhere. Higher salaries in Fairfax County, for example, frequently lure Loudoun teachers to that district.

"This is about enhancing your attractiveness," said School Board member Edward J. Kiley (Mercer). "Face it, we're competing against Fairfax and Montgomery counties for [job] candidates."

Under the district's current salary scale, teachers with a bachelor's degree and at least 16 years of experience cannot earn more than $39,419 a year. Britt's tentative numbers would boost their annual pay to between $40,602 and $56,202, depending on experience.

Teachers with doctorate degrees would also receive more, earning $35,969 if they have no experience and as much as $68,919 with 29 years of experience.

The seven Loudoun teachers with doctorate degrees are paid $34,652 to $66,398, depending on how long they have been teaching. That is the same salary range for teachers who have a master's degree and 30 additional credit hours of higher education.

The proposals were discussed at a board subcommittee meeting and have yet to be voted on by the board. A majority of members and School Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III have voiced support for higher salaries. If they are approved, the question remains whether the supervisors will fund them or require the School Board to make cuts elsewhere in its budget.

School officials said they do not know whether all the job openings will be filled before the first day of school. If not, they said, substitute teachers will fill in until permanent teachers are hired.

Britt said 17 special-education teachers are needed as well as Spanish, chemistry, Latin and biology instructors, among others.

"We think we're moving along quite nicely," he said.

The district also is searching for 74 instructional aides, computer assistants, cafeteria workers and bus drivers.

"So we're still plugging away," Britt said.