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Loudoun Education Association asks for ‘living wage’ for all employees

The Loudoun Education Association, a local chapter of a national teacher’s union, recently presented the School Board with a list of budget priorities for fiscal 2018, providing insight into the school system climate and the issues Loudoun County Public School teachers face at work.

The main concerns LEA members presented to the board include giving teachers and staff a “living wage,” reducing the cost of benefits, making wages for mid-level teachers more fair, reducing class size, providing sufficient work materials and giving teachers the time they need to work with students.

“A salary increase continues to be critical for employees as the cost of living has increased,” said Sandy Sullivan, vice president of LEA. “In order to remain competitive with our surrounding counties, we must adequately compensate our employees with commensurate salaries.”

According to the nonprofit LEA, 52 percent of the LCPS staff surveyed said they had a second job or were seeking other work to make ends meet.

“Despite the pay increase in the current budget year, the increased cost of health insurance coupled with higher deductibles have eroded any increase in pay for many employees,” said Carl MacKey, a physical education teacher at Belmont Ridge Middle School. “In Fairfax, all benefits-eligible employees in active status pay the same rates, regardless if they are part-time or full-time. The health insurance rates for classified employees are proportionally larger based on their wages compared to other employees.”

Mary Hughes, a counselor at Ball's Bluff Elementary School, spoke to the School Board about how new administrative tasks pull teachers away from instruction.

“Expectations have changed for our teachers with too many new initiatives and the increasing use of semi-reliable technology, time spent creating lessons, and time keeping up with parent emails are increasing the stress on all of our staff,” she said. “This is leading to more sick leave and perhaps fueling our current teacher shortage.”

Hughes continued, “For counselors like me, the large caseload and the lack of school resources may be putting our children in harm’s way. Too many of our counselors at the elementary level are being pulled to sub for missing teachers due to a lack of coverage.”

LEA recommends the School Board “aggressively monitor” things like teacher planning time in order to ensure staff has time to prepare for instruction and they aren’t interrupted frequently.

The nonprofit also asks school counselors and reading specialists not be pulled away from their duties to fill in as substitutes in other capacities.

Tim Brown, a Spanish teacher at Woodgrove High School, asked the School Board to take high-needs students into consideration when calculating class size.

“The time spent with each student is greatly diminished when classes are overcrowded,” said Brown. “We encourage the development of standards to allow the class make up to be a factor in reducing class size. Students who require more of the teacher’s time and attention should not be counted as a single student in the computation of class size.”

Brown also noted that LCPS hasn’t bought new textbooks for most subjects for several years. The loss of supplemental teaching materials that come with new books “has placed a significant strain on teacher planning time and equipment,” he said.

Cutting 12 technology assistants last year has meant many teachers have to prepare two lesson plans now, said Brown.

“[We prepare] one [lesson plan] utilizing technology and top quality material, and an alternate 'contingency' lesson plan that increasingly is becoming the lesson plan that is used,” he said. “Plan B is taking the place of the preferred 'Plan A' when equipment and materials are not readily accessible.”

LEA also recommends the School Board restore other lost support positions like deans and English Language Learners assistants.


Our children are falling further and further behind other countries while we bicker over spending millions on fake grass fields.  Give me a break.  Dump that money into education expenses and our future.

Unless somethings changed at LCPS, all staff ARE paid over a 12 month period. So no budgeting is needed.

No dante, YOU are the person who is saying teachers need help.  I say if they are having a hard time it’s because they cannot budget themselves.  It’s very simple math.  It’s not attacking teachers.  It’s pointing out your whiny hyperbole about how “tough” it is for teachers 2 months of the year.  Why is that a point of view that if you cannot validate it you still cannot not address ON POINT?  What about BUDGETING yourself dante??

Two things, Trump girl.  First, I don’t know any teachers who need you to teach them about budgeting.  They do this without your help.  Second, the implication in Bob’s post is that teachers only work a half year while everyone else works a full year.  It is quite disappointing that a former board member would spread falsehoods like this and attack teachers instead of focusing his attention on the board and the administration.

Dante, sounds like you are still reeling from Hillary’s defeat, and personifying the denial we’ve seen from her hypersensitive followers.  Saying a teacher can’t get a summer job is like saying someone who wants an ID can’t get one. Pretty much everyone in any job is paid what they are worth. Not what they feel they are worth, but what the market dictates. If not, they’d move on. Since so few teachers do move on, they are getting paid what they are worth. Sounds like you need a lesson in economics, and reality. You won’t get that hanging out with your Occupy Wall St. pals.

dante - what?  “attack on teachers”?  Good grief.  It’s called budgeting your salary into 12 months, not 10.  Maybe teachers should take a required training course with a yearly refresher “How to Budget Your Salary for 12 Months instead of 10.”  You literally make it sound like teachers become destitute for 2 months every year.  What about 2 earner households?  Can’t be THAT destitute, no?  How about budgeting that yearly salary into 12 months and then - wow - it becomes a 2 month VACATION! while your juicy gov pension and grows and you still have health care coverage.  If you still need to carelessly blow your yearly salary in 10 months, well , then, yes go get a “2nd job”.  I simply do not understand how you figure the salary “deficiency” because of the 2 months “off” in the summer.  Budget like the rest of us!

JP. Happy to change the topic now that you have agreed that you misspoke about teachers ability to take on summer jobs to close the gap in pay.  I appreciate your ability to be corrected.

DD, technically it’s not all Virginia employees.  It depends on the type of work they perform.  Teachers are among the highest especially for office-type work. 

Emergency workers (police, firefighters) I think might get similar rates.  But general county workers and classified employees of LCPS get much lower rates.  They must work longer to receive similar pensions.  Or they simply get lower pensions than teachers.

It’s rather crazy to think that teachers are almost expected to retire at the ripe ol’ age of 52.  Just shows you how much power these unions have over the politicians.  Can’t wait to hear them whining come budget season next month about how they are so “underpaid” for only working 195 days per year.

Dickinson and SGP makes the great points…if teachers weren’t compensated adequately, they’d be looking for new jobs. They aren’t. Sorry Dante, facts aren’t with you. Does that matter to you?

Trumpgirl - 30 days less than you claim - not sure why you would not want to be accurate.

What is more important is the attack on teacher pay that uses the false arguments that teacher either have plenty of time to work extra jobs or that their salary should be prorated somehow and they actually earn more that what their paychecks say or as Bob poster below that teacher only work 1/2 a year.

Hey Dante - so what?  “2” vs “3”...and your point is - what?  Mine is still the same.

hey trumpgirl - summer break is only 2 months, not 3

Hey bob, your 180 day number needs to be compared to 240 days, not 365.  Not many people work 365 days a year.  Most work 5 day work weeks and have 20 or so days off for vacation and holidays. Many have 30-40 days of vacation and holidays so the number of days to compare teacher to is definitely not 365.

As a former SB member, you should know this number - why are you attacking teachers?

Teachers, and all other Virginia public employees, get an eighteen (18) % contribution to their retirement.  While the rest of us are happy to get 3% from our employers, they get a whopping 18%.  Not a small benefit at all.

Just don’t live in Loudoun and there’s your raise, teachers.  Pretty simple math.

I have never understood why pay for teachers is described the way it is.  I think if you make x salary and divide it by 12 then that’s what you make and should budget accordingly for 12 months.  This business of saying teachers are “only” paid 9 months and “not paid” for summer months and that they are in “hardship” because of those “unpaid” 3 months off is just goofy.  Your salary divided by 12 is what you make, and clearly because they have great benefits and pensions that is one reason why they are considered as contributing full-time employees.  So they have to do some thinking about or planning of their jobs over the summer for their next term - seems to me that’s what they are being paid for over the 12 months of work like the rest of us.

where are these summer programs, SGP?  Are you talking about summer camps that pay minimum wage an require staffing beyond when teachers report back to work?  How many of these positions are there in Loudoun?  As usual, you ignore reality.

There are limited opportunities for summer work in the area so the argument that teacher can truly augment their earning for those 8 weeks is without merit.  Perhaps, if Loudoun One built the ball park, teachers could be selling beer and hot dogs.  Until then, teacher will be spending those 8 weeks planning the following year and taking classes.

Regarding day care - now you are suggesting that all teachers have kids who need day care - do you ever look at the real world? 

This is the annual dance between paying for the school system at the quality level residents desire, actually demonstrating it operates at that level by allowing parental input to performance evaluations without any concern over retribution and the continued denial by the BOS that their high density development approvals exacerbate the ability of the community to afford what it wants. How about publishing some facts so the discussion can move from opinion to substantive review? What are employees paid per hour including benefits? What percent of the employee population is released per year for lack of performance? How does LCPS augment tax dollars received by utilizing the value of its more than $1.5 billion asset base via advertising etc? How balanced is the experience/cost of teachers throughout the system so mentoring can occur at all schools? What is the real span of management of executives at headquarters? Does LCPS or the BOS AUDIT student generation statistics which drive proffers prior to high density developments being approved?
Let’s get the facts out because when a job that requires 180 days out of 365 minus vacations, snow days etc it needs to be measured per hour not per year or else keep schools open all year!
Bob O__ Esq.

DD, the attrition rate is very low. Even considering transfers to other districts, it peaks about 8% for early steps (step 3-9). After that it drops below 3%. Teachers are very well paid in Loudoun. Candidates are banging the door down just for an interview.

And Callme ignores the fact that teachers need not pay for daycare if they don’t work in the summer. That has monetary value. Many summer programs hire teachers exactly when teachers are off for the summer as well. As usual, Callme presented propaganda to obfuscate the issues.

What is the LCPS teacher attrition rate?  A low attrition rate indicates adequate compensation.

JP - how can teachers supplement their income greatly during the 2 months (not three, last day for teachers is June 13 and they return August 16) of summer vacation.  How many jobs are their in Loudoun that hire for only two months out of the summer?  This notion that teachers can find part time jobs for the summer is wrong.  Any suggestion that a teacher must find a part time job for the school year in order to pay rent, gas, and food is simply cruel.

teachers are like everyone else. Some are great, some are average, some should be ashamed to pick up their paychecks. But lets remember for a moment that teachers get three months a year off, during which they can supplement their income considerably. Yet they still get benefits and pensions. Doesn’t happen in the private sector. Tie their compensation to performance, and I’m all in on giving them earned raises. Just like the rest of us.

Virginia SGP and Brambleton Matt make great points. I would only add one thing about McKay’s comment… teachers, like everyone else, are suffering from rising health care costs. That’s what we all got from Obama Care, so don’t complain about something you all supported and pretend your the only one suffering from crushing health costs.

I don’t like the way the school system is set up, but we do get a better product compared to other parts of the country. I wish there were more charted schools in Virginia. I would live poor if it meant my kids could go to a school that taught them how to think instead of what to think.

Totally agree with Matt.

How about this ... ditch the union and let pay be determined strictly based on merits and allow the county to fire the underperforming and I will whole heartedly agree to vote to significantly increase the teachers pay scale across the board. 

I agree with independent with one glaring exception ... GOOD teachers are underpaid and undervalued, but there are too many poor ones that are leeching off the union-based system that awards mediocre and poorly performing teachers at the expense of our best and brightest.

A Follow up questions,
How many of those second jos are only during he summer?
What’s the impact on teachers having to deal with illegal immigrants?

Loudoun Independent, administrators in other counties are COMPLAINING about LCPS paying so much in such a low cost of living area.  Teachers in Fairfax are leaving for Loudoun.

You really have no idea what you are talking about.  You just put out propaganda to improve your negotiating position.

Our teachers earn $20K/yr more than those in Norfolk/Virginia Beach (not a cheap place).  They earn $34K/yr more than high-tech Durham, NC.  And they earn $40K/yr more than those in Knoxville, TN.

Our teachers are paid well.  That being said, we likely have great teachers who are still underpaid and ineffective teachers who are overpaid.  But the teachers resist being evaluated so nobody can tell the difference.  LCPS tells us 99.5%+ are great.  Nobody, not even teachers, believe that.

How does a larger salary make a teacher better? Top-end teachers receive $130K+/yr.  And teachers can retire at the ripe ol’ age of 52 with a $50K/yr pension for perpetuity.  How is that underpaid?

Educators across the US are UNDERVALUED and UNDERPAID.

It is always amazing to hear people gripe about a benefit teachers get.  Bit think for a minute a about that email you send a teacher that you want a response to right away.  Or, when supplies are short and the teachers supplement from their own pockets.

Educators in.other countries are well paid and respected. We should start doing the same.

Let’s see, we have teachers recommending mutually exclusive priorities.

Funding = (# of teachers) * (teacher pay).

If class size drops, you have more teachers.  This squeezes out any pay raises.  Rather than asking for lower class size, ask for an increase in size to 25 so the good teachers can get paid more.

As to the technology, the BYOT policy is garbage.  Virtually no company ever allows their workers to use whatever technology brand they like while providing customer support on those devices.  It’s user beware or they standardize.  We would be better off increasing class size by 1-2 and purchasing standard devices (tablets) for all kids.  Lower service costs, more productivity, etc.

Teachers are also right about all the nonsense paperwork.  Of course, much of that is a result of the “projects” agenda where nobody takes tests.  When you have objective tests, you can measure the knowledge/skills of the students and how teachers improved that knowledge/skills.  Thus, the use of SOLs and SGP data.  But when you refuse to use those scores, you end up with MOUNTAINS of useless “justify-I’m-a-great-teacher” paperwork that detracts from their duties.  We either need tests (yes) or mountains of paperwork.  But don’t oppose test while complaining about the work.

Recall that new teachers with masters degrees start at a private-sector equivalent wage of $65K/yr.  Top-end teachers receive $130K+/yr.  And teachers can retire at the ripe ol’ age of 52 with a $50K/yr pension for perpetuity.  How is that underpaid?

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