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Fauquier Teachers, don’t despair!

Dear Teachers,

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.

Sincerely,

Kate Warzinski (mother of 6 through Fauquier County Public Schools)                                                        Marshall

 

 

Comments

comments

4 Responses to Fauquier Teachers, don’t despair!

  1. Dominic Ruibal Reply

    March 31, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I would say the voters seem to be pretty supportive of conservation easements as well, seeing as those are tantamount to tax cuts. The point of them is to incentivize people to not sell their farmland to developers, which we see often results in a need for additional infrastructure and schools for all the new people who do not necessarily run businesses in the county, which usually results in a need to raise property taxes (see Fairfax, Prince William counties). The teachers should get raises every so often regardless of the policy on conservation, seeing as it is not always a one or the other type situation.

    • Anton Afterwit Reply

      March 31, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Mr. Ruibal,

      I will make you a deal. If you can show me the referendum or the ballot initiative that was used to authorize the conservation easement expenditure then I will concede that the VOTERS are supportive of this expenditure at the expense of other areas of the budget. I think you will find that most voters do not have a clue about the program or the expenditure.

      You are right, it is not always a one or the other situation, but the tax for the conservation easements are a separate levy allocated specifically for the program. So, how about this year we cut the tax for conservation easement to zero and give all that money to the teachers. Or cut the conservation easement to 50% and give that other 50% to the teachers.

      We have a finite amount we can tax the citizens. From that finite pool of money we must decide which programs to fund and which programs not to fund, or how much to fund each. If I were given a choice between trying to lock up more land to keep the developers out or pay our teachers a decent salary, I would vote for the teachers.

      We already have 99,605 acres of conservation easement in Fauquier County. There are 414,080 acres in the county. That means 24% of the County is held in conservation easements. How much is enough? What is the goal? At what point do we stop spending on conservation easements and start spending on our teachers and emergency responders?

      • Ziggy Reply

        April 1, 2014 at 6:36 am

        Anton, you forgot to take into account the amount of land already developed for single family homes, multi-family homes, commercial property, government property, parks, roads, etc. Whey you base that on the total available property you are more in the range of 35% of the County is no longer available for development.

        And I agree our Teachers need a raise.

  2. Anton Afterwit Reply

    March 30, 2014 at 9:57 am

    Kate you have expressed exactly how most of the county residents feel. We do appreciate our teachers and do want them to be fairly paid for their efforts.

    Sadly, you are seeing the results of our county BOS spending money on something other than what the voters want them to. They could have given the teachers a raise a long time ago. But instead, they decided to participate in the PEC scheme.

    Take a look at the county budget. $801,878 for the Conservation Easement Service District Fund that could have gone to the teachers. And they want to go higher this year. Maybe instead of taxing more to spend more on Conservation Easements they can put that money towards the teachers.

    I think the voters would agree that we have already given enough to lock up land to prevent development and our teachers are much more important. Maybe if we get a budget surplus in the future we can donate some more money to PEC, but for now we need to get our priorities straight.

    And to get to a budget surplus we need to be attracting business of all sizes to our county. Starting with the independent small business owner to large box stores, we need to give them a reason to come here. We need to make starting and running a business easier than any other county.

Please Tell Us What YOU think.