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LEA Seeks Pay Changes

The Loudoun Education Association details its compensation package.

The Loudoun Education Association has developed a compensation package for the upcoming fiscal year.

The LEA is seeking a six percent increase on the salary scale of teachers and classified staff. In addition, the union wants the school district to start providing holiday pay for classified staff, such as secretaries, janitors, cooks and others in non-teaching jobs.

The LEA also is seeking new sick leave benefits, equitable pay for teaching assistants, a continuing reduction in class size, additional planning time for all teachers, and a change in the transfer process.

Mac Corwine, LEA president, said last week the raise is necessary for the school district’s employees to achieve a living wage. “The association feels it is needed to keep pace with the surrounding area … in order for the staff to maintain a home in the area or purchase one,” he said.

He described the request for a “six percent raise, plus the step increase.”

“The salary scales are out there already, for the teachers and administrators and classified staff. … What we’re looking at is to increase the scale by six percent.”

THE LEA COMPENSATION package provides another reason for the increase. “Loudoun County public school students have successfully met the challenges of the Standards of Learning by passing these state-mandated tests over the past two years,” the document said. “In order to continue this excellent record, we must retain and attract quality teachers and staff.”

Corwine said teachers and classified staff have never received holiday pay, but a change is needed to compete with businesses that offer the benefit. “Look in the newspaper,” he said. “Mechanics, secretaries, most of them have benefits plus paid holidays. We need quality people, top to bottom.”

Sandy Sullivan, chairman of the LEA compensation committee, asked the School Board to support the salary increase at its Oct. 26 meeting. She also presented a written copy of the compensation proposal package. Corwine directed questions about the cost of the package to the school district. Janet Gorski, budget supervisor of Business & Financial Services, said officials have not analyzed those numbers.

Vicki Petrosky, a 22-year veteran teacher, told the board a teacher cannot afford to live in Loudoun County, because of the high cost of housing. She also spoke of the expensive medical care and gasoline.

THE COMPENSATION PACKAGE details the request for:

* Sick leave benefits: Recommends reimbursing retiring employees for unused sick leave at 25 percent of their per diem rate and the removal of a cap. The LEA maintains the current structure provides little incentive for employees to accumulate sick days. It also recommends removing the requirement of 30 consecutive days to receive the sick leave benefit.

* Equitable pay for teaching assistants: Recommends that all teaching assistants be placed at the same level on the pay scale and the level be at least a 10.

* Continuing reduction in class size: The LEA recognizes the positive impact of lower class size on student success.

* Additional planning time for kindergarten teachers and all teachers: Kindergarten teachers should receive the same amount of planning time as the other elementary teachers. All teachers should be allowed 60 minutes of planning time per day.

* And a change in the transfer process: Current employees should be rewarded for their service by allowing them to vie for positions that open up later in the transfer process.

Corwine said the LEA is seeking improvements for all staff. “I mean I truly feel we need to speak of our entire educational community, from our bus drivers to cafeteria workers,” he said. “It truly takes every one of these people.”