When Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick requested a $712 million operating budget Tuesday, Nov. 28, a few School Board members raised their eyebrows at the proposed increase in teacher’s salaries.
The superintendent proposed increasing teacher’s salaries by an average of 6.3 percent, 3.5 percent of which is a cost of living adjustment.
School Board member Bob Ohneiser (Broad Run) shrugged his shoulders at the announcement, stating that the board increased teachers’ salaries last year.
Hatrick said it was necessary to increase teachers’ salaries in order to compete with the top school districts and recruit the best teachers in the country.
With the opening of three new elementary schools, one new middle school and the student enrollment projected to increase by 3,000 students, Hatrick said the school system would have to hire about 800 new teachers.
"We are already out recruiting next year’s teachers," Hatrick said. "We don’t want to offer them a fair compensation package, but a leading compensation package."
WHEN THE SCHOOL Board adopted its goals in September 2005, it made a point to emphasize the importance of maintaining competitive teacher salaries in an effort to attract the best teachers from around the country.
Under Hatrick’s proposal, a first-year teacher would make $43,500 to start work in Loudoun County Public Schools, compared to last year’s starting salary of $40,986.
The goal, he said, was to recruit top teachers that will make LCPS one of the top school systems in the nation.
"We lead, not follow in the area of employee compensation," Hatrick said.
While School Board member Joseph Guzman (Sugarland Run) sees himself as an advocate for the public education system, he said the board members have to be responsible with taxpayers’ money.
"We’re going to have to make sizable cuts or we will have a hard time reconciling [with the Board of Supervisors] in the spring," he said.
IN ADDITION to raising teacher’s salaries, Hatrick proposed increasing sick leave pay out from 20 percent to 25 percent of a teacher's average salary, and to increase the stipend for National Board Certification from $1,500 to $7,500.
National Board Certification is a voluntary, advanced teaching credential that goes beyond state licensure. The certification complies with national standards and was created to enhance a teacher's craft.
"It helps create master teachers," Hatrick said.
In addition to funding additional certification, Hatrick proposed a 2 percent longevity step added to the salary scale.
Employees move from one step on the scale to another for each year of satisfactory performance provided the school system is given the money to do so.
"We haven't added a step," Hatrick said. "We're saying we value you. It's an incentive."
Hatrick proposed an operating budget to School Board members for the 15th time in his career.
"We are doing what we've been doing for 15 years. Now we are doing it with more people," Hatrick said.