Fauquier County Discusses Teacher Pay

Sydney Beard, Editor

The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors and School Board members have decided that the teacher pay will be increased by 5%. A local request for $4.1 million is included in the division’s budget proposal to help pay for the 5% increase for school staff compensation. In 2022, it was proposed by the School Board that the average teacher salary should be increased from 13% to approximately $65,000 per year. This would have required the county to grant an additional $7.4 million toward the $155.7 million fiscal budget for the school division. “We are very pleased to announce this well-deserved salary increase for our staff, and appreciate the Board of Supervisors for working with us to make it happen,” said School Board Chair Donna Grove. In order to address market compression issues, funds will be incorporated for market adjustments.

Fauquier County decided to not issue the extra financing for raises, constraining the division to postpone the acquisition of new buses and put a hold on 27 staff positions.  When presenting the division’s annual budget to the School Board on February 13, Superintendent David Jeck referred to the 13% pay increase as “huge” because it contributed to the assistance of easing salary compression. “For the most part, we got rid of that, and we did right by our teachers,” he said. “Our teachers recognize that we made a lot of progress in terms of being more competitive …” Jeck along with other school administrators proclaim that in order for the division to compete with neighboring counties that have larger budgets and are able to pay teachers more, the division needs to raise salaries. 

During the meeting of the School Board in February, Jeck announced that Fauquier will not be capable of competing with neighboring counties of the north and east in terms of teacher salaries. However, he said that the educational system needs to “strive” to be competitive. According to the results of the Teacher Salary Survey conducted by the Virginia Department of Education, the average salary of a Virginia teacher in the 2020-2021 academic year was approximately $53,000. The National Education Association, on the other hand, estimated that it would be closer to $59,000. In 2020, the median salary in Fauquier County was $59,000. The survey found that teacher salaries in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, and Manassas were between $10,000 and $20,000 higher than the state average. 

A handful of teachers interviewed by FauquierNow during the summer stated that despite their appreciation for the pay increase in 2023, they are in need of a raise in order to stay in the county. Some people have decided to work in nearby school districts due to the pay. However, additional funding for salaries, which accounts for 89% of the division’s operating budget, comes at the expense of other projects, like deferred maintenance and critical infrastructure. Separate from its $4.1 million local request, the school system would receive $4.1 million in state and federal funding for pay raises for their Standards of Quality (SOQ) employees. Paul MCulla, County Administrator, stated that the school budget would not change in any other way. The division could also grant non-SOQ employees 5% raises with additional local funding.

“I’m very happy for our folks. They deserve this raise and so much more. What we have witnessed over the past 15 months is just how special our staff is. We are extremely fortunate,” said Superintendent Dr. David Jeck. “I want to thank all of the members of the Board of Supervisors, School Board, and Paul McCulla for working together in order to make this happen. They clearly support our mission.”  According to County Administrator, Paul McCulla,“I expect, based upon discussions among Board of Supervisors members, that the funding needed for the increase will be approved.”