The Fairfax County School Board is poised to move ahead with a plan to boost employee salaries, despite the objections of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
When the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors signed off on a $67 million increase in schools funding last month, supervisors made it clear that they did not want the school system to move ahead with its plan to give school employees a 2 percent pay increase in January.
The funding increase was aimed at covering the costs of enrollment growth in the school system, supervisors said during budget deliberations.
General county employees will not receive a pay increase in the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“My personal concern is equity,” said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Sharon Bulova (D-At Large)
At a Thursday work session, however, School Board members indicated via a straw poll that the majority still favor that option.
Because the county gave the school system less that the School Board requested, the approved school budget that included pay raises has to be cut by more than $30 million.
School Board members said they are concerned about potentially losing teachers to other school systems, as neighboring jurisdictions are planning to provide pay raises to employees in fiscal 2014. Teachers and School Board members alike say the county is slipping in overall compensation, in comparison to its neighbors.
“We are not competitive, at least at the level that we need to be to attract the best and the brightest, and anything less than that I think is unacceptable,” said board member Dan Storck (Mount Vernon).
The school system must also implement pay raises by January in order to qualify for a state incentive grant. The one-year grant covers $6.3 million of the estimated $22 million cost of providing the January salary bump.
“If we don’t do that, $6.3 million will be lost forever. I don’t want to lose $6.3 million,” said School Board Chairman Ilryong Moon (At Large).
Bulova said she is reviewing compensation adjustments that the county and school system have given employees during the past few years of tight budgets.
“I’m looking into whether or not their proposed action would be equitable on both sides,” she said. “If that, in fact, exists … then fair is fair.”
The School Board is far from unanimous in its view on employee compensation.
The board has extensively examined a variety of lower-cost options, including passing up the state funds to schedule a pay increase for April 2014 or only providing enough funding to offset the cost of changes to employee retirement plans.
Board members discussed each option at length last week, and there was support for some of the other alternatives.
At least one board member, Ted Velkoff (At Large), said he would not support the budget if it included the 2 percent pay raise.
The School Board will vote on an updated budget Thursday evening.