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LEA Addresses Compensation

Representatives of the Loudoun Education Association (LEA) have put the School Board on the defensive.

When the School Board met in October and November, LEA members presented reasons why the board should grant a 6 percent increase on the salary scale of teachers and classified staff. The LEA also has sought holiday pay for classified staff, such as a secretaries, janitors, cooks and others in nonteaching jobs. In addition, the LEA wants 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.

After their presentation earlier this month, Chairman John Andrews asked the school district staff to figure out how much the association's compensation package would cost. ÒItÕs only been six months since weÕve been hailed as heroes,Ó he said, referring to the fiscal year 2005 approved school budget. ÒI was disappointed by the tone tonight. I think all of us are dedicated to education.Ó

School Board member Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run) told the representatives that he understands their position but they need to take their campaign to the Board of Supervisors. ÒWe donÕt have the ability to control the residential/business mix [of construction] or manage taxes for our own systems,Ó he said. ÒWe canÕt force the supervisors to impose impact fees to fully cover the costs.Ó

Carrine Clark, an English as a Second Language teaching assistant, provided a handout of her key living expenses compared to her take home pay. She said that left her with $11.12 to pay for food, gasoline and other bills. She is studying to become a certified teacher and working part-time jobs to make ends meet. ÒI work very hard for my students and this school system,Ó she said. ÒI am very tired and very stressed. I urge you, no, I need you to change this.Ó

She suggested the board try living for one month on her income Òwithout cheating."

Linda Reeves, a special education assistant, said she is making $17,089 after working for the county school system for four years. She asked for more reasonable compensation. ÒI love my job,Ó she said.

<1b>Ñ Andrea Zentz