Have hope. Don’t despair. You may have seen our County Administrator’s proposed 2015 budget for Fauquier County. It does not look so good for a raise this year as Dr. Jeck and the School Board had wanted for you. But teachers, there is still the chance that our Board of Supervisors will adjust the proposed County budget to give you the raise you so justly deserve. Our Supervisors have a month to think about it.
Mr. McCulla’s proposal for the 2015 County budget funds the schools only about 1/3 of the $5.1 million increase that Dr. Jeck had requested for FY 2015. Dr. Jeck presented a very fair and reasonable budget. This was not a needs based budget, but a “what will it take to get by” budget and the Supervisors must understand this. His exquisitely lean and responsible budget contained, virtually, no fat. Also, Dr. Jeck was sensitive to the financial issues facing the other County agencies when he made the request for our schools.
Dr. Jeck ranked compensation and benefits the number one priority for teachers. Much of this was mandated by the State, for FCPS to contribute $1.7 million to the Virginia Retirement System. Most of the other remaining money was to cover a 2% raise for you. You deserve that raise. We know how hard you work in your job and how many hours you put into lesson plans and grading beyond the school day and school year. We know that you have to pay for your own supplies, printers, and even your own ink cartridges. Those of us with children in public schools get it. We know you work hard; you put in long hours; and that your job is a special calling.
Teachers, we know that you missed a raise in years 2009, 2010, and 2011. We know that you netted only a 2% pay increase in 2012 because you had to pay for your own retirement contribution. And, in 2013, you netted only about a 1% pay increase because your health care insurance rates increased. It is painful that the FY 2015 proposed budget has no plan for a raise for you and you may feel unsupported.
Mr. McCulla proposes an increase of only $2 million for FY 2015 for our schools. That leaves, after the required $1.7 million put into benefits, around $300,000 to take care of all of the additional needs of our school system for the year. Other funding priorities for our schools for FY 2015 had included safety and security; 21st century teaching and learning; advanced and GT studies; facilities and growth planning; technology; after school programs; and transportation. There are many pressing needs for our school system but they are going to have to wait if our schools do not receive the necessary financial support. With this lack of local funding year after year, the quality of our school system will suffer and erode over time. Class sizes will increase. We may lose more of our finest teachers. Ultimately, the students will suffer.
Fauquier County teachers, we all know how important you are to our children’s success in life. You have a huge influence on their future, sometimes even more than their parents do. Also, the economic prosperity of Fauquier County is tied to the success of our children. When our children succeed academically, they may return, hopefully, to the job opportunities we provide for them here.
Teachers, you have many who are pulling for you. You have an extremely supportive administration and School Board who are doing their best to get you what you deserve. And there are the tens of thousands of Fauquier County citizens who want you to be fairly rewarded for all you do for our children. We are working to increase the tax base in Fauquier County to attract more businesses here. This will help pay your salaries and give you a decent and well-deserved raise. There is a cultural change coming, and Fauquier County’s public schools and its teachers will be supported. In the meantime, be patient. Have hope.
Kate Warzinski (mother of 6 through Fauquier County Public Schools) Marshall