Citizens: Teacher, not administrator raises

Posted: February 20, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Three citizens spoke out Tuesday against pay raises for Frederick County Public School administrators while supporting merit-based salary increases for teachers.

The input came during a public hearing on the fiscal year 2014 budget as part of a School Board meeting held at the division’s administration building on Amherst Street.

Jim Holbrook, 62, of the Shawnee District — who expressed concern over the possibility of higher taxes resulting from salary increases — said he believes teachers and support staff should get a pay raise but not administrators.

“The upper level, they make enough,” he said.

The potential pay raises are part of the division’s proposed $136.4 million school operating fund in its FY2014 budget. Last year’s operating fund was $131.9 million.

The proposed budget includes a two-part, $4.8 million salary initiative. Division employees have not had a salary increase since July 2008.

Part one is related to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposed 2-percent salary increase for Standards of Quality instructional positions, such as teachers, guidance counselors, librarians, principals, assistant principals and instructional aides.

McDonnell’s proposal, however, would not include all staff.

As part of the initiative, the state would provide $700,000. To provide a 2 percent salary increase for all division employees, the locality would have to put in $1.3 million.

Part two of Sovine’s salary-increase initiative would require $2.8 million to provide for a two-step movement on existing salary scales for staff with more than one year of experience and a one-step movement for employees who have completed their first year.

Like Holbrook, Paul Phillips, 41, of the Stonewall District, expressed concern over a potential tax increase.

Phillips proposed three options: postpone a salary increase for all staff until a more “economically feasible time,” adjust pay to make it more comparable between teachers and administrators, or enact merit-based pay, which would reward teachers based on student success.

“It’s unwise fiscally and unnecessary,” Phillips said of an across-the-board pay increase that would include administrators who make “six figures.”

Currently, principals in the division make between $78,000 and $119,000. Superintendent David Sovine earns about $206,000 (including salary and benefits). In comparison, teachers start off with a base pay of about $39,000, and after 30 years earn about $66,000.

Jay Marts, 55, of Gainesboro, said he wanted to see a salary increase for teachers, but he didn’t believe in an across-the-board increase, stating that nothing is targeted for the best teachers.

“It’s always all or nothing with the School Board,” Marts said after the meeting.

Marts also suggested lowering the proposed pay increase to 1.5 percent.

Joy Kirk, president of the Frederick County Education Association, also spoke and applauded the School Board for making salary increases its No. 1 priority in an effort to retain teachers.

At the end of the meeting, board Chairman Stuart Wolk expressed his desire to see the division bump the salary increase to at least 3 percent.

A public hearing on the budget will be held March 27.

It will be approved in mid-April.

Present at the meeting were Chairman Stuart Wolk and members John Lamanna, Peggy Clark, Jody Wall and Michael Lake. Vice-Chairman Benjamin Waterman was absent.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com