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Teacher Pay Raise A Point Of Contention In Fairfax County

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In Virginia, members of Fairfax County's public school board and the county's board of supervisors all agree that education is the county's number one priority. That doesn't mean county leaders agree on just how to get teachers their first pay increase in two years.

For Fairfax County Federation of Teachers President Steven Greenburg, it's simple: A third year of frozen teacher salaries will mean more teachers working two jobs to make ends meet and others forced out of teaching altogether.

"I've literally seen people who have tremendous potential in the profession just be completely frustrated with the fact that they can't pay their bills and although they love the children, they've gotta survive," he says.

Superintendent Jack Dale apparently agrees. His budget proposal for the coming year includes a 2 percent pay increase across the board and further raises for eligible employees.

School Board Chair Kathy Smith says pay increases are necessary to stay competitive.

"Loudoun County...[wants] a 3 percent increase for their teachers. We really need to make sure that we hire the best and we keep them," she says.

But Dale's proposed budget includes $48 million of county money -- 3 percent more than last year.

Springfield Supervisor Pat Herrity supports paying teachers more, but he says the school board needs to make more administrative cuts before asking the county for extra money.

"The resources are there," Herrity says. "They need to be funneled into the classrooms, the teachers and the kids, and not on administrative garbage."

At the start of February, the school board must adopt its advertised budget, but it won't get final approval until May, after county supervisors go through the budget process.

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