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February 14, 2019 · OPINION

Considering the “full story” of teacher salaries here

By Suzanne Sloane
and David Jeck

Fauquier County Public Schools

We read a letter to the editor recently offering the position that Fauquier County Public School teachers are appropriately compensated as a result of salary increases and bonuses in 15 of the past 18 years. Although the vast majority of the information presented in the opinion piece is accurate, it is incomplete. The problem is that when you exclude important pieces of information, readers are left with half the story. Thus, we feel compelled to respond on behalf of the FCPS community.

Fauquier schools stopped providing automatic step increases more than 10 years ago. As a result, the teacher salary scale is severely compressed, and school divisions to our north and east have flown past us in terms of equitable compensation. In fact, when adjusted for ability to pay, and considering the economic conditions within regions, FCPS ranks 127 out of 132 school divisions in Virginia. (Source: JLARC staff analysis of VRS salary and teacher license data from the Virginia Department of Education.)

A teacher with 10 years of experience in Prince William County, one of our biggest and most well-funded competitors, makes $60,327. That same teacher with 10 years of experience in Fauquier County would make $49,555. For FCPS to get within 90 percent of Prince William’s average teacher salary, it would cost approximately $17 million. (Source: FCPS Human Resources calculation.)

Virginia currently ranks 34th nationally in terms of teacher salaries. That is roughly an $8,600 salary discrepancy in average teacher pay in Virginia versus the rest of the country. (Source: NEA 2017 “Ranking of States” report.)

If Northern Virginia were a separate state, the rest of Virginia would rank in the bottom five nationally in teacher compensation. (Source: “The State of the Commonwealth’s Budget, the Governor’s Budget Proposals, and the Implications of State Income and Internet Sales Taxes” Jim Regimbal, Co-Founder, Fiscal Analytics Ltd.)

Fauquier County, like most counties and cities in the state, began the school year with teacher vacancies. In fact, we still have vacancies BECAUSE THERE IS A TEACHER SHORTAGE. (Source: Teach Virginia) Fewer and fewer undergraduates are choosing education as a profession while, at the same time, more and more teachers are retiring, and school populations continue to grow. Sorry, but money talks, particularly in this part of the state.

Since 2008-09, Basic Aid as part of the state budget increased by 53 percent. However, at the same time, Basic Aid for K-12 in Virginia has DECREASED by 3 percent. (Source: Virginia Department of Planning and Budget)

We agree entirely that the burden placed on local communities has been too great in providing for school budgets. We feel that the good folks in Richmond understand our problem and are willing to help. FCPS has fallen behind others NOT because the county has been unable or unwilling to help, but because the state has not fulfilled its obligation to appropriately fund public education. We are still below fiscal 2009 state funding levels. Can any other state agency or organization say the same?

If you truly believe that teachers are valuable members of our community, then please support Gov. Ralph Northam’s amendments to Virginia’s budget.

Ms. Sloane (Scott District) serves as chairman of the Fauquier County School Board. Dr. Jeck is the superintendent of schools.

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Jim Griffin · March 7, 2019 at 8:05 am
Never said it was you. Was your name attached? No, no it wasn't.

Now you've attached my name to a direct personal attack. Shame on you, you know better. We're both journalists and educators, right?

I would never call Lou to unmask a pseudonymous contributor. Nor would I attack a fine superintendent. Especially not also another employee doing a fine job.

Doubly so when unity will make a difference at an important time.

But that's you, apparently. Thanks for letting us know. Nothing irresponsible in mine, but yours is another doozy.
ShellyNorden73 · March 7, 2019 at 2:01 am
Thank you Jim Griffin, but NDJ is not me. I do not hide behind fake names.
I would love to hear “the lies” you speak of- as all the information I’ve posted has been my own experience and facts garnered from FOIA requests.
As for this bitter divide you speak of, I’m sure that divide has nothing to do with the 6-14 percent pay increases that were given at the top where there is no turnover, or the instructional decisions we are told to implement by those at the top who have never taught our content or asked us for guidance. It could also be the times we are, not asked, but assigned to cover classes or give tests during our planning periods leading to more work being taken home.
We had a record number of teachers leave the county last year and more great teachers are on their way out this year. If conditions were better and people on the frontline were treated as the hard working professionals we are, we wouldn’t see this mass exodus.
I will say I understand your allegiance to the top, as someone you know well was very open about the job that was created specifically for her.
Our students are paying a hefty price with the number of new teachers who aren’t fully licensed and long term subs. When a student attempted to share her experience with a long term sub at a recent school board meeting, she was challenged on Twitter by someone in a leadership role. Now, the student fears speaking out again.
Having grown up in this system and dedicated the last 17 years of my life to making sure my students get the quality education they deserve- we owe it to our students to “do better.”
In the future- I ask that you, Mr. Griffin, be a little more responsible with your posts. A quick call to Lou could have verified that alias is not me.
Jim Griffin · March 5, 2019 at 7:43 am
Ad hominem lies by an anonymous brick thrower shows cowardice, not strength. It is beyond ridiculous to impugn the fine superintendent's courage, character and strength of leadership.

Take a good long look in the mirror, NDJ. You are a bitter divider of people who tells lies to get attention; It is sad to note from your rhetoric that you probably work in our schools (and I think I know where). Shame on you. Your petty, ill-timed, personal grievance stands against progress for all. Running for school board?

Your angst-driven attack led to another two minutes later at midnight. Enough said. You have issues, get help.
Not David Jeck · March 2, 2019 at 11:12 pm
The man who lied to our faces in the meeting at Kettle Run last year saying "nobody gives step increases anymore" and then directed a Sheriff's deputy to tear a cell phone out of the hand of a teacher when she started recording his lies after being called out. This is our "leader".
Not David Jeck · March 2, 2019 at 11:10 pm
"SO your not going to squeeze the BOS for more money?"

Of course he won't. "Doctor*" Jeck can't even write an Op-Ed by himself, what makes you think he'd have the courage to stand up to the Board of Supervisors?

*He has an EDd, not a PhD. It's a professional degree, not a doctorate.
Mark House · March 1, 2019 at 8:38 am
There is no mention of the extra cost for special needs students, such as ADA requirements for buildings, special needs teachers, school nurses, etc.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · February 28, 2019 at 1:51 pm
Pleased the costs of nonsense within the school system.
Teachers will be honest if you keep it confidential.
Perform surveys. Seek the truth.
BestKeptSecrets · February 27, 2019 at 1:41 pm
Perhaps once a year, you should have a vendor fair. Charge $1000 a table and invite each and every business to market themselves to the community. You can hold it in the high school. It will provide an opportunity for students to meet entrepreneurs, parents to purchase their products and/or services.
Especially invite the laborers, auto mechanics, plumbing, heating and air, electricians etc. They can share with students what they need to achieve to gain skills needed for their positions or jobs.
nonewtaxes · February 19, 2019 at 3:44 pm
Thay aint showing nobody nothing except that they and they alone touch the future.

W VA teachers going on strike. They are getting a pay raise but are still going on strike because they are also getting competition. In addition toi pay raise, W VA wants to open charter schools and give scholls vouchers ie provide some form of competition. Union response = strike. Hold the kids hostages.
brandonj · February 19, 2019 at 1:37 pm
Great op.

As you say, it’s not fair to use salary as a basis alone, which is generally what unions and teacher advocates typically parrot. In the private sector the term total compensation is used for apples to apples comparison. It’s not hard to calculate tangible benefits such as salary, health, retirement, bonuses, training, etc. Additionally there are other fringe benefits that schools must identify (in postings, benefits manuals, etc.) to make the community/job stand out. These include cost of living and quality of life e.g. commute time, bucolic environment, facilities, and nearby cultural experiences (DC is a short drive on the weekend). I’m not sure what they’re doing now, but the county has to emphasize these to be successful in acquiring good talent. Seems like a no brainer to me!

Show us the data – don ‘t ask for more money until you do. Or you know, let us keep a majority of our property taxes so we can have school choice.

And I fail to see how the 2019 Mission Statement differentiates Fauquier from anywhere else. The county needs to market itself better and tailor its implementation rather than a one size fits all approach, while still meeting all the goals imposed by the feds/state.
Savefauquiercounty2019 · February 18, 2019 at 5:57 am
If we can have the entire full story.
Competitive salaries include the salaries of those educators with higher degrees and certificates. You presented a salary just based on years of experience. Please break it down. (Teachers often feel inadequate because of the culture which exists in respect to their knowledge base and educational level. Start sharing their credentials and how you attract and keep them).
You didn't mention retention. You mention the losses based on retirement. Provide how many teachers departed over the past 10 years and why. Does your human resources support and collect data of reasons given? Exit interviews?
If you have poor management, how are you getting rid of scare cows?
nonewtaxes · February 17, 2019 at 9:06 pm
more birth control and more illegal immigration? I dont know what you eat but it sure comes out of your mouth as BS. Since you being so smart you are sure to explain how allowing illegal immigration and more birth control aint mutually exclusive.

The market will tell. The market is telling us that the taxpayers support the teachers in this county on a fair basis when compared to the neighboring counties. Based on property values, the market tells us that we already pay our fair share. Based on public reports, Faquier County is not the low cost provider on a $/student basis. You cant say the school aint got excess money. More likely is just isnt spent on salary.

Demosthenes · February 17, 2019 at 8:19 pm
People complain that immigrants don't want to learn the English language, and then when they see that helping immigrants to learn English costs money they question the value in it.

Isn't it ironic?
TADD · February 17, 2019 at 5:55 pm
We already supported the teachers march in Richmond. They were awarded a 5% raise. The community is concerned the county stopped their annual increments. The county needs to explain revenues they receive from business taxes etc. and why teachers are not being compensated. Looking at the budget expenses for instructional, tech, and staff over 3 million is being spent on English as the second language. If dishonest employers are hiring illegals the community needs to pursue them for reimbursements. They are not paying fed, state taxes or health care benefits. They aren't following CDC, public health guidelines and place the county residents at risk, The county public health expense funds resources for their meds. The county needs to share those costs with the residents.
Cammie Rodgers · February 16, 2019 at 2:59 pm
nonewtaxes - I wasn't trying to be sarcastic, I meant it when I said we need more control of the birth rate. You, on the other hand, think you're the smartest in the barnyard. Go back to eating your hay.
Jim Griffin · February 16, 2019 at 11:57 am

If anything is illegal -- anything at all -- our fine Sheriff is the point person. Contact him. Other than illegality, government treats all who reside here equally.

As regards the hospital, it is private enterprise. We have choices.

When the superintendent and teachers went to Richmond to draw attention to the issue, some here asked about docking their pay. The budget figures are available for all to see.

We choose to live in this fine community and take pride in it. It is a great place, has helped raise our son for the past 15 years. Very thankful, try to give back all we can.

I'm curious: Who are you who -- according to your posting name -- is saving our community? Appreciative for your service, it should not go unrewarded. Let us know who you are!
Savefauquiercounty2019 · February 16, 2019 at 11:44 am
Gov. Ralph Northam boasted about a surplus. If our paid leaders are not effective in getting attention to equitable pay and benefits per education, experience and level of professional responsibilities for our educators, we need new, more experienced leaders. Stop being part of the problem. You have the data, the statistics in regards to Fauquier County budget, we don`t. Please ask the county to share and we will call and write the infamous governor. But Fauquier county residents need to pay attention to the incompetence amongst us, we have a hospital with a 2 star rating and a home care agency who wound care nurses have a 1 year degree. Fauquier county has become the problem. We deserve to know the truth. ARE our taxes going to support Illegals?
Jim Griffin · February 16, 2019 at 10:03 am
The "full story" is written by the market, which says it's difficult if not impossible to get the teachers we need in certain specialties. It is the voice of reality and the market is speaking loudly both here and across the nation as regards the terms and conditions of teachers' employment.

nonewtaxes · February 15, 2019 at 11:54 pm
wasn't responding to your comment about birth control at all. It was very stupid. but i gave you the benefit of the doubt and assumed you might be trying to be sarcastic. I gave too much benefit and assumed too much. my bad.

you must have a bad heart or be a tall person. sounds like youre having trouble getting blood to your brain. wear tighter shoes.

Cammie Rodgers · February 15, 2019 at 8:03 pm
Birth control is not the same as an abortion. Geez, get a clue nonewtaxes or get off the OxyContin.
nonewtaxes · February 15, 2019 at 2:46 pm
robots. if you cant out run a robot you die. SOunds cruel or just the next step in the evolution of evolution. Still, it may be better than pulling a baby out of the womb and "allowing it to die".
Cammie Rodgers · February 15, 2019 at 2:36 pm
Fewer children, no need for more teachers, no need for more schools. Birth control is the answer.

Yet, where are we going to find the trained caregivers to work in nursing homes for all those old people (who's own children don't want the burden of caring for them) that think having an educated population is not their problem.
Tom LaHaye · February 15, 2019 at 12:30 pm
I am all for fairly compensating our teachers, but if we include, as Dr. Jeck and Ms. Sloan support, other important information, we must include the cost of health insurance. Some seem to forget that in the recession years, when there were little or no salary increases for teaching staff, the county absorbed the increasing cost of health insurance. In subsequent years there were raises and one-time bonuses to compensate for some of the lost salary, but health insurance costs were not increased proportionately. Now, for the 2019-20 school year, a Fauquier teacher's annual contribution for family coverage under the KeyCare 15 plan is over $2,500 less than a similar plan in Prince William County. The Fauquier plan also has lower co-pays than the PWC plan.

I believe compensation for Fauquier teachers needs to be competitive, but let's make sure we're looking at total compensation, not just salaries.
nonewtaxes · February 15, 2019 at 8:58 am
unemployment below 4%, everybody struggling to get people hired

Have you looked at the reality of the ability of the county to pay more and more and more? A simple analysis of the facts confirms that our county, on a basis of property values, pays about an average amount compared with the surrounding counties.

Maybe the school should look at cost structure and money allocation within the system. If the county is not the low cost provider than there is room for improvement. WHy can other counties educate their kids for less than us.

Maybe we should push out the 5 people who skew the county $$ so that the county looks poorer to the state and we get more aid.

Digging deeper into local pockets is not the answer. We dont have the money.
J Obrokta · February 14, 2019 at 11:29 pm

Pensions have already changed, and that is part of the reason that teachers are demanding more pay. Older teachers are still on a guaranteed pension system that is a pretty good deal, but during the recession VRS changed the way that retirement would work for new hires. Our young teachers now have a system that looks a lot more like your private 401k. They have an account that they need to contribute to and no guaranteed benefit.

Those younger teachers are also affected by the way in which pay scales were re-written over and over again during the recession. In most districts, ours included, young people went "up" a step each year in the recession, but the scale was changed so that the new step paid the same as their old step did. This is the compression issue that Dr. Jeck has said needs to be fixed.

Other things like healthcare aren't what they used to be in your mom's time. Our plans cover the teacher fairly well, but if we need to add a spouse or kids onto the plan then the additional cost is paid for mostly by the employee.

I love what I do, but when looking at the realities of wages and benefits I understand why we are struggling to get new teachers into the profession.

Jim OBrokta
LHS Social Studies
nonewtaxes · February 14, 2019 at 10:45 pm

i guess you dont agree with the super that the locals are paid up to their limit and that the balance due is lacking from the state.

Of course the data shows that the county residents pay their fair share but thats of no interest to you because facts do not matter to you.

you want fiar teacher pay I want a fair comparison between teacher pay and other jobs including hours worked and benefits. Also, I want competition. I want the county to allow me to send my kids to school at a public school or give me the equivalent $13,000 (approx) and send my kids to private school. What does it matter to the county? The cost is the same. Why cant I have choice???

homeward611 · February 14, 2019 at 10:15 pm
Just to add some more thoughts. First off, it goes without saying that I have nothing but respect and appreciation for our teachers (my mom was 1!) - I have multiple kids in this school dist as well.
The annual salary is for 9 months work - so for $50k/yr that 5555/month and for a normal 12 month employee that works out to ~$67k/yr. Just wanted to place that there for reference. I agree that even that still seems low for people with the education requirements that there are for teaching positions, and for ppl that are shaping the education/development of our children and next generation. There are other perks to being a teacher though that must be considered - such as healthcare coverage, pensions, time off, and working hours. Having never been a teacher I don't have intimate knowledge of exactly what Fauq. Sch. Dist teachers receive in those catagories, but speaking of when my mother was a teacher, she got a really fat pension when she retired after 30 YEARS! Most in the private industry have to work much longer to retire, with the 401k they matched their employer with for over >40yrs of work. The health coverage she had was so good, that we used my mothers' insurance vs. my fathers' and he was a Westinghouse employee when WH was in their prime. My mother also got other perks, such as claiming extra items for tax decuctions, free museum/library privileges normal folks couldn't get, laptop/computer discounts, etc - since she had a teachers union card.
These types of luxuries in compensation are very, very, super dooper expensive. We all have read about how pensions liabilities cripple districts, companies, etc..
If teachers want more salary $$$, maybe theres a way to negotiate out some of the other perks? Everyone knows that typically gov't jobs pay less but have better benefits.
Other avenues may also exist to reduce costs - unfortunately most ppl that complain don't complain "hey Richmond please help us reduce unnecessary costs on the district", most ppl instead complain "we need more $$$".
Just my thoughts, all constructive in intent..
renter · February 14, 2019 at 6:01 pm
jschum403--your playing games , someone/other citizens have and will pay your salary and benefits. You are an EXPENSE to the system . You were an EXPENSE when you were getting a paycheck and your an EXPENSE now that you are in retirement. Nothing you did created new jobs , or was a net plus to the economy like starting a company or a profitable business , you are an EXPENSE . Same applies to most other government employees. Maybe before your 30 years retirement has ended the system will crash and there will be no one to fund your retirement. Most counties around the country are in deep financial chaos because of this very issue . Only time will tell . But if does happen remember you did the job because you cared about people and it was not for the money or that large cash payout you received when you left or your fully funded 30 plus years of retirement.
jschum403 · February 14, 2019 at 5:40 pm
@renter...unless you live in the Northern Virginia jurisdiction I worked for(pretty sure you don’t if you are commenting on this website) then YOU paid nothing towards my retirement. With any luck I will collect for much more than 30yrs. I would suggest an economics class so you can understand how this works. Good luck.
renter · February 14, 2019 at 4:56 pm
I am glad that I helped pay for your 30, along with my fellow citizens , and that we can continue to pay that other 78% while your in retirement. You may have earned it but we have and will continue to pay for you for another 10, 20, 30 years. See how all this works ?
jschum403 · February 14, 2019 at 4:43 pm
@renter....that government paycheck you speak of I EARNED over 30yrs. And I personally paid 12% of Every paycheck towards it. I am proud of my service and have EARNED every penny I get.
renter · February 14, 2019 at 3:46 pm
to jschum403- Its not possible to have fiscal discussions with people who are receiving government paychecks, you are all bought and paid for and you do not understand how the free market works.
jschum403 · February 14, 2019 at 3:26 pm
@renter...Again you show your lack of knowledge. Our teachers are underpaid and not by a little. They are deserving of a pay increase.

I would suggest if you are so unhappy about our public safety professionals and teachers that maybe you should consider moving to a jurisdiction that is more in line with your thinking.
renter · February 14, 2019 at 11:13 am
Pay the teachers what they want ,clean out your saving account , sign over the deeds to your homes to them , put the teachers union in your will when you die , these people are just too important. How they are able to live on an average of $50k for working 196 a days a year I do not know. Give them what they now or they will continue to complain and your children will suffer.
Rusty Wheel · February 14, 2019 at 10:12 am
newtexqas your priority noted its yourself

not illegal to be cheapskate but short-sited

support supe for teachers n kids
nonewtaxes · February 14, 2019 at 9:34 am
"We agree entirely that the burden placed on local communities has been too great in providing for school budgets."

SO your not going to squeeze the BOS for more money?
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