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January 9, 2019

Fauquier educators joining Jan. 28 rally in Richmond

Photo/From Facebook Video
Supervisor Holder Trumbo (Scott District) listens Dec. 13 as Jennifer McIntyre encourages the county board to attend the Jan. 28 rally in Richmond.
The RedforEd movement started last year in West Virginia and spread to other states.
We are asking for the legislature to fully support the budget proposed by the governor.
— Jennifer McIntyre, teacher and Advocating for Change co-founder
“Red for Ed” March and Rally
• When: Monday, Jan. 28; march starts at 11:30, rally at noon.

• Where: State capitol, Richmond.

• Who: About 200 Fauquier teachers, school staff, elected officials, citizens, joining thousands from around the state.

• Why: To demand the General Assembly increase public school funding and teacher salaries.

• Organizers: Virginia Educators United and Virginia Education Association.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
About 200 Fauquier teachers will skip school for a trip to Richmond late this month.

Those teachers — along with Superintendent David Jeck, school board Chairwoman Suzanne Sloane (Scott District) and others — will join a rally at the state capitol Monday, Jan. 28, to demand more school funding and higher pay.

“The march represents the power of employees that have been underfunded for too long . . . and coming together to change that . . . doing it in a way that is keeping it positive and professional,” said Jennifer McIntyre, co-founder of a Fauquier school employee group, Advocating for Change. The group formed after the county board of supervisors’ budget hearing last March.

The march will “draw attention to the lack of funding to public schools,” added Ms. McIntyre, a fourth-grader teacher at C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School near New Baltimore.

Thousands of school employees, parents, elected officials and other citizens from across the commonwealth will dress in red for the #RedforEd march and rally.

Virginia Educators United, which organized the march, wants the state to “restore” funding cut after the Great Recession, increase teacher pay, provide competitive wages, recruit and retain high quality and diverse teachers, help localities address school infrastructure needs and ensure all schools have adequate support staff.

“I’m looking forward to the event and think it’s going to be a positive event for teachers statewide and quite a bit of energy and a great presence from folks in Fauquier County,” Dr. Jeck said at Monday’s school board meeting.

As of Monday afternoon, 197 of Fauquier’s 940 teachers had asked for personal leave Jan. 28 to participate in the rally, he told the board.

Never have 21 percent of Fauquier’s teachers been absent from classrooms the same day, which will present staffing challenges for the school system.

But, schools will remain open on Jan. 28, according to Dr. Jeck.

School employees get three days of personal leave per year, according to the Fauquier human resources department.

“We have 133 covered with (substitute teachers),” Dr. Jeck said. Associate Superintendent for Instruction Major Warner “is actively recruiting central office and complex staff to help cover classes on the 28th.”

Substitutes earn $70 to $100 a day, depending on education and experience. County schools will spend about $12,000 for them to lead classes during the rally.

“I’m not recommending that we close on the 28th,” Dr. Jeck told the board. “I think we’ll be able to cover (classes) and provide meaningful instruction.”

Ms. McIntyre has worked with Fauquier Education Association President Lauren Brill to get the word out to school employees and community members about the rally.

“This needs to be a unified message to everybody — employees, to parents, to students — that we are working together to dig out of this underfunded mess,” Ms. McIntyre said.

“As a parent, I want my students to have access to highly-qualified educators,” she added. “We are unable to attract and retain highly-qualified educators.

“I myself, with a master’s degree, deserve to be appropriately financially compensated for the role I play in students’ lives and their future, along with every other educator in this county.”

She said the school system lost 12 percent of its workforce last year and 7 percent the year before.

Fauquier teachers will carpool or ride a Virginia Educators United charter bus to the rally.

In Richmond, they will march about a mile with other demonstrators to the state capitol, where the Virginia Education Association will host the rally.

Participants will push legislators to pass Gov. Ralph Northam’s proposed 5-percent raises for teachers, along with other funding increases for schools in fiscal 2020, which starts July 1.

“We are asking for the legislature to fully support the budget proposed by the governor,” Ms. McIntyre said. “While that is not enough . . . we need that piece fully funded” to help “ease the burden” on counties.

Fauquier public schools this fiscal year receives $45.7 million from the state — about one-third of the $140 million county budget for education.

Over the last two years, state funding has remained relatively flat in Fauquier because of the county’s affluence.

Fauquier real estate values, household income and retail sales — which factor in the state “composite index” for school funding — all continue to rise. That hurts Fauquier in the competition for financial support from Richmond.

“It’s time for Richmond to step up . . . . That’s the bottom line,” Dr. Jeck said at a school board meeting in December. Virginia ranks “35th in the country and average teacher salary is $6,500 below the national average . . . . We’re not paying our teachers what we ought to.”

The “Red for Ed” movement started last year with teacher demonstrations in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina and other states, according to the National Education Association.

In West Virginia, 20,000 educators went on strike from Feb. 22 to March 7 last year. The strike ended when state officials agreed to fund 5-percent raises, despite West Virginia law prohibiting such a work stoppage.

Virginia law also prohibits public employees from striking. But, teachers in Fauquier and elsewhere around the state previously have threatened to “work to the contract” unless salaries increase.

Contact Cassandra Brown at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-878-6007.

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sshrader · January 9, 2019 at 4:49 pm
To claim that quality instruction is expected with 20% of the teachers out is inaccurate AND shoots the message in the foot. As it is, many high school subs do not provide instruction or academic help at all, ask students. Closing school on the 28th will help enforce the message that our teachers are professionals who are not easily replaced and need to be fairly compensated.
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