Serotkin/Venkatachalam Q&A

Ian Serotkin, left, and Ram Venkatachalam

Two candidates – Ian Serotkin and Ram Venkatachalam – are hoping to represent the Blue Ridge District on the Loudoun County School Board after this November's election. Incumbent Jill Turgeon is not seeking re-election.

Serotkin and Venkatachalam recently responded to a Times-Mirror questionnaire to give voters more insight into their platforms. Here are their responses.

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Ian Serotkin

What are your two top priorities to help improve Loudoun County Public Schools?

My biggest priority is to make sure we are doing an effective job at keeping up with the tremendous growth that Loudoun County has had, to eliminate overcrowding in our schools, and to lower class sizes. The new schools that are opening are opening full, because they’re the schools we needed five years ago. Some communities in Blue Ridge have had to switch schools four times in the past five years because of the constant redistricting every time we open a new school and shuffle kids around to try and balance things out. I intend to make sure that we’re getting ahead of the growth curve, and that no children and teachers are suffering in overcrowded classrooms while waiting for schools to be built. Educational research done over the last 30 years, such as Project STAR and Project SAGE, tells us that reducing class sizes, particularly at the elementary levels, has a variety of long-term educational benefits such as increased student performance, lower safety and suspension rates, higher parent engagement, and lower teacher attrition. Some of our most crowded elementary school classrooms have nearly double the recommended of students for the age level. That is unacceptable. 

My next priority is to raise teacher and staff salaries, and make sure we’re paying all LCPS employees a living wage. I’ve met with around 20 Blue Ridge school principals since I launched my campaign, and most of them tell a similar tale – they live here in Loudoun, but too many of the teachers and staff that work for them live in Clarke County, or Winchester, or Fairfax, or West Virginia because they can’t afford to live here in Loudoun. If we want truly great schools, then we need to attract and retain truly great teachers by making LCPS the best place to work.

The past school year was a controversial one, with roughly one LCPS employee arrested each month, a locker-room sexual assault at Tuscarora and a former student bringing a gun into school, to name just a few major issues. Do you think Loudoun County Public Schools could've done anything different to avoid some of these troubling incidents? If so, what?

As part of my platform, I’ve also called for a comprehensive security framework that includes all aspects of school safety and security in a similar vein to federal NIST security control standards (physical protection, access control, IT security, incident response, personnel security, risk assessment, contingency planning, etc.) This framework should be rolled out district-wide and independently audited regularly to make sure it’s in place and working. 

I also intend to focus on initiatives shown by research and science to improve school safety – threat assessment programs to identify threats and prevent violence before it happens; social and emotional learning (SEL) programs to establish a healthy school environment that promotes safety; implicit bias training to help eliminate disproportionate and discretionary student discipline. 

And when incidents do occur, we need to do a much better job of communicating effectively with the community. A big part of that means being open and transparent about issues when they arise. The school district has struggled greatly to release accurate information in a timely fashion when incidents have occurred in our schools, from sexual assault in locker rooms to individuals carrying firearms into the school buildings. I recognize that sometimes, personal information is protected by law from being released. But the school district has used that too often as an excuse for slow or non-existent communication, and that needs to stop. I’m hopeful that the newly-hired Director of Communications will help in this regard, but that’s not the whole answer – the school board and the superintendent are ultimately responsible for communications with the public; the buck stops with them.

Similarly, some parents have expressed that trust in the school system is lacking. What can a School Board representative do to help parents trust LCPS?

Outreach, openness, and responsiveness are the keys to regaining the community’s trust. If elected, I plan to: 

  • Have town halls and office hours throughout the Blue Ridge district on a regular basis, and to continue to be as responsive as I possibly can be to emails, phone calls, and singing telegrams. 

  • Provide an opportunity at school board meetings, immediately after public comment, for board members to respond to what they’ve heard the community say. 

  • Implement an official public school board Facebook page for disseminating information directly to the public when appropriate. 

  • Require all school board committee meetings to be recorded and available on the LCPS website 

  • Project/display amendments to policies/documents in real time during school board meetings, so that spectators can more easily follow along. 

  • Require paper agendas to be available to the public at all school board and committee meetings. 

  • Provide time in board meetings for SEAC, MSAAC, and GEAC to respond/comment on relevant policy changes under consideration. 

  • Create a searchable listing of school board voting records, available on the LCPS website, so that the public can easily see which school board members voted for and against which motions.

What is something you feel the current School Board has done/is doing well? How can you carry that progress forward?

As the co-leader of More Recess for Loudoun County, I helped pass a new state law on recess and then worked with the school board to put a new policy in place that more than doubled the amount of recess time our kids get in Loudoun in grades K-5. The school board deserves credit for (mostly) implementing our recommended policy. I will work on extending recess/breaks into middle school, in line with CDC and AAP best practices and recommendations. 

Getting to 100% full day kindergarten (FDK) during the 2018-19 school year is a significant achievement of the current school board, considering it was 11% five years ago. Loudoun was one of the very last counties in Virginia to implement FDK. That said, the superintendent has raised concerns since then about being able to maintain FDK due to projected enrollment increases and the additional space required by FDK. It’s something the new board will continue to have to keep an eye on to make sure we’re keeping up with growth. 

The Special Education and Equity Ad Hoc Committees were also positive steps forward in at least acknowledging some of the more glaring systemic issues within LCPS and trying to address them.

How can LCPS improve in the area of diversity and equity? What steps should the School Board take to acknowledge the rights, abilities, values and individuality of students of all backgrounds?

I’m very concerned about some really big systemic issues regarding racial disproportionality in discipline, access to gifted programs, and other areas. The Equity Ad Hoc Committee was a small step in the right direction, and I’d like to see that work continue. There’s been some debate among the current school board as to whether equity should be a strategic goal, or if it should instead be elevated to a LCPS Core Belief. My answer is that it’s a silly argument and that it should be both – an evergreen core belief AND a strategic goal with measurable metrics and actions to achieve the goals. 

There’s also mounting research evidence (such as “The Effects of Teacher Match on Students’ Academic Perceptions and Attitudes,” Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, March 2018) that shows that when students have teachers that look like them, they do better in school. That’s why I’m committed to increasing the diversity of teachers and staff hired by LCPS, in line with the current strategic action to do so.

What is your vision of a well-rounded education? What level of importance do you believe extracurricular activities — athletics, arts, debate, etc. — play in the life of a student, and what can the School Board do to ensure those programs are successful?

Growing up, I played lots of sports but I was terrible at all of them. Then, at the beginning of 9th grade, I signed up for my high school’s fencing team, mostly because I loved the lightsaber battles in Star Wars and the swordplay in The Princess Bride. That experience would blossom into 20-year fencing career that saw me travel all across the country to compete. It later evolved into serving as a longtime national referee with USA Fencing, where I presided over high-pressure matches that determined who would represent the United States on its Olympic fencing team. 

My point is, I think extracurricular activities are vitally important in helping students learn who they are, what they can do, and what they are passionate about. It’s why I’ve volunteered as an Odyssey of the Mind coach and school coordinator at two different LCPS elementary schools (taking my team all the way to the VA state championship the last year I coached), and why I’m committed to enhancing and bolstering LCPS’ extracurricular activities – including extending our sports program down into middle school.

What grade (A through F) would you give Superintendent Eric Williams? Do you have any concerns about his leadership?

I don’t believe it would be fair to give him a letter grade before I even start on the job.

The new school board is going to be quite different from the current one, and I believe he deserves a chance to work with the new board from a position of good faith and have the opportunity to implement the new board’s strategic direction – and to have his performance measured based on the new board’s guidance and objectives. That’s infinitely more difficult to do when you’ve pre-judged someone’s performance publicly. I doubt many of us would have much respect for a boss who came in on day one and said, “Even though I haven’t worked with you yet, I give you an F on the work you’ve done so far.” 

I obviously have many concerns about LCPS’ direction – that’s why I’m running for school board in the first place.

Do you believe there are areas of the LCPS budget that should be cut? If so, what are they?

Utility costs. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that schools nationwide could save 25% on their energy costs by being more energy-efficient. Specifically, I’d like to see LCPS invest in a solar panel program, as more than 5,500 schools do nationwide. That would significantly drive down our energy costs in the long-term and save a good deal of money. 

Just because I feel that we should be investing more in our schools doesn’t mean that we should spend money unnecessarily. During a past job, I was responsible for spearheading Lean Six Sigma (LSS) cost savings initiatives for a 4,000-person business unit of Lockheed Martin. LSS projects I oversaw achieved millions of dollars in verified cost savings over a two-year period by eliminating waste and unnecessary costs, such as reducing time-to-hire by more than 33%.

Do you believe there are areas of the LCPS budget that should be increased? If so, what are they?

Yes, I don’t feel that we’re investing enough in our kids and the school system that educates them – pretty much across the board. 

It all depends on your goals. If you’re satisfied with the status quo, than you can keep on funding it like the status quo. I’m not satisfied – I want to transform LCPS into the best public school district in the country. My entire platform on how to do that can be found on my website at https://ianserotkin.org/ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VoteIanSerotkin/.

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Ram Venkatachalam

What are your two top priorities to help improve Loudoun County Public Schools?

I want to help make Loudoun County Public Schools the best and safest in America by taking proactive steps to resolve today’s challenges and ensuring more effective communication with parents, and more cohesive leadership from the School Board. 

It starts with improving school safety. I support the additional hardening of schools and training of security staff, as well as putting a School Resource Office (SRO) in every public school in cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office. It’s not enough to have SROs in every high school and middle school; our elementary schools should be protected too in case of an emergency, as well as to develop a positive relationship between our children and law enforcement. 

We must do more to keep our children safe on school buses and I support adding cameras on all buses to apprehend drivers who don’t stop when children are getting on and off. 

Safety also includes the emotional health of our children while at school, and issues of bullying and social stigma. We should expand programs in our schools that build self-esteem and resiliency through peer-to-peer and peer-to-adult support. 

I am also committed to offering our children a world-class, well-rounded education in Loudoun’s schools, and to respecting that one size does not fit all. Some students flourish in large, diverse schools, and others in small, rural schools, charter schools or in a home school environment. LCPS and the School Board should respect this in its planning and programs. I will also put a high priority on attracting and retaining the best teachers and support staff. Loudoun should not be playing catch up with the rest of the region; we should be the magnet where outstanding teachers and others want to work and stay.

The past school year was a controversial one, with roughly one LCPS employee arrested each month, a locker-room sexual assault at Tuscarora and a former student bringing a gun into school, to name just a few major issues. Do you think Loudoun County Public Schools could've done anything different to avoid some of these troubling incidents? If so, what?

The number of serious incidents we are aware of is disturbing, and the one thing they have in common is that it has been nearly impossible to get information out of LCPS about these and any ongoing problems in our schools. 

Parents and children deserve better. 

Even now, I am aware of serious safety and management concerns in certain schools that have been reported to LCPS administration with no responsive action or communication taken that I am aware of. We must stop allowing problems to be buried until discovered by the media or law enforcement, and the next School Board must hold Superintendent Williams and his senior team more accountable, with the goal of mitigating these problems in the future.

Similarly, some parents have expressed that trust in the school system is lacking. What can a School Board representative do to help parents trust LCPS?

Trust is in the eye of the beholder and from my experience meeting with parents they have vastly different personal experiences with LCPS. The same is true for teachers, bus drivers and others with whom I’ve met. For those who’ve had bad experiences with LCPS, one thing a School Board member should do – and the board as a collective body should do – is to insist on more transparency, timeliness and responsiveness by LCPS administration generally. A lack of any of these breeds suspicion and mistrust. It starts with making this a higher priority in the current relationship between the Superintendent and the School Board, and I will do so.

What is something you feel the current School Board has done/is doing well? How can you carry that progress forward?

The budgeting process is much improved over the previous term and earlier years and both the School Board and Dr. Williams deserve credit. LCPS has made a concerted effort to bring budget information forward sooner, and the School Board has not found itself producing budget recommendations with massive funding gaps between what is requested and what the Board of Supervisors is prepared to approve. This avoidance of crisis management when it comes to budgeting must be sustained by the next School Board.

How can LCPS improve in the area of diversity and equity? What steps should the School Board take to acknowledge the rights, abilities, values and individuality of students of all backgrounds?

Loudoun is an increasingly diverse county and LCPS and county government must continue to reflect and serve this citizenry – including students. Diversity is America’s strength and a commitment to equity and equality should be a guiding principle of all LCPS policies and programs. With that said, I do not support special treatment of any of group of students to either favor them or call them out. Issues of school safety, bullying and mental health impact everyone, and there is no one size fits all when it comes to the educational interests and needs of our children. 

The School Board, in its direction of the Superintendent, must play a more forceful role to ensure that these priorities are implemented in every Loudoun County public school and that all administrators and teachers are trained to embrace and practice them.

What is your vision of a well-rounded education? What level of importance do you believe extracurricular activities — athletics, arts, debate, etc. — play in the life of a student, and what can the School Board do to ensure those programs are successful?

The School Board should reflect the interests of the county, its parents and students, as well as be a more vocal advocate for a well-rounded education for all students as the best predictor for happiness and success in life. Academics always gets the most attention, but the mission of LCPS should be much broader than reading, writing, math and science. 

As a member of the School Board, I will support both a strong, forward-looking academic curricula as well as a commitment to extracurricular activities, especially those that expand opportunities for social interaction and personal development.

What grade (A through F) would you give Superintendent Eric Williams? Do you have any concerns about his leadership?

Dr. Williams gets a “D” for his service to the School Board and the community at large. 

His recruitment to Loudoun County was to have marked the end of elitism and toying with the School Board and other stakeholders by his predecessor, but it has not. Instead, Dr. Williams has continued to isolate and insulate himself from scrutiny of his management practices and priorities, and too often allows his senior team to be unresponsive to requests for information and assistance by members of the School Board who hired him under a contract now extended to 2022. 

I am committed to more effective management by the next School Board, including more timely and responsive communication with parents and the School Board by LCPS, especially on urgent matters of concern such as safety and the well-being of our children.

Do you believe there are areas of the LCPS budget that should be cut? If so, what are they?

Seven years ago, the Loudoun County Government Reform Commission was directed to make the consolidation of certain LCPS and general government services and program a priority. They tried, but thanks to LCPS leadership at the time this effort was stonewalled. It is time to look again at how LCPS and general government can operate more efficiently, to deliver high quality services in a way that spends our taxes in the most cost-effective way possible and allows more monies to be focused on students not overhead. 

That review should also include a fresh look at LCPS management, administration and communications functions. We have a large and ever-growing bureaucracy of highly compensated senior and mid-level staff, and the effectiveness of this paradigm need periodic review, especially given the challenges that LCPS has faced in compensating teachers and support staff.

Do you believe there are areas of the LCPS budget that should be increased? If so, what are they?

Many areas of LCPS spending deserve reconsideration. Among those I would like to see prioritized in the next term are the following: 

  • School safety, both the further hardening of our schools as well as the staffing and training of security personnel, including SROs funded by the Sheriff’s Office.

  • Mental health and student empowerment and resiliency programs in all schools.

  • Arts and civics classes, to promote more well-rounded and better-informed graduates.

  • Teacher salaries and benefits, to attract and retain the best.

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(27) comments

AreYouKidding

Mr. Venkatachalam lost my vote with his support of SROs. SROs don't increase school safety. The only effect they usually have is to raise what should be issues handled through the standard school disciplinary process into criminal offenses.


amerigirl

VA, What is with all the name calling before you even start your comments? I guess you are the only one who knows all the answers, according to you. Also, you are making it sound like a median income home always has 2 incomes. They could have only 1 or quite a few more. For a few years after my sons graduated there were 4 incomes in our home, that boosted our house income by over $100K. It also states that Loudoun has the highest median household, not that they are related, this includes homes with roommates. Also, I need to say that this is the 2019 adopted budget if there is one that has been adopted for 2020 I can’t find it.











1. As per this paper’s article on 1/9, Loudoun has the highest starting salary for teachers in the area, but LCPS teachers on the master’s salary lane earn $182,000 less than their Fairfax counterparts over the course of a 30-year career. Not sure where you got your 70% figure of teachers with master’s degrees, but after contacting LCPS they had a figure of 54% to 65% at any given time and only 1% hold a doctorate.











2.according to the FY19 Adopted Teachers' Salary Scale teachers with a Masters start at $55,941 not $59,500. After 3 years if there are 2 teachers and not a single income household, they would make $57,968 to $59,410 or a max of $118,820. Still below the median rate of $139,915.











3. A teachers with a bachelor’s degree would start out the gate with $50,171, two of them would make around $100K not $150K, which is lower than the median.











4. They are lucky to get a pension plan at all. Yeah unions! But if you republicans have your way you will get rid of the all the unions.











5. Where did you get that Info on health plans? How can you back it up?











Once upon a time, folks felt guilty for putting out false nonsense. How are you feeling? And please stop all the personal attacks, is that all you republicans know how to do?


Virginia SGP

Is there something magical I need to do for the correct facts I posted in response to be published here?


ace10

The Leftists can't do any meaningful research and simply spout off the very first result they find on their google machines. It's sad to think that these people may actually cast votes next month. LCPS teacher salaries are PUBLISHED by the county as part of the adopted budget package. If someone thinks that $50K is the AVERAGE teacher salary, then that indicates a total and complete detachment from reality. For the fiscal year 2020, a 22 year old fresh out of college will earn $54K for 9 months of work. While the maximum grade is $107,190. The AVERAGE teacher is likely earning $70K - 80K for this year, SO YES, a household with two teachers, working nine months, would earn WELL IN EXCESS of the median county salary.


amerigirl

Where do you get those figures? If you look at the actual FY19 Adopted Teachers' Salary Scale for Loudoun a teacher fresh out of college would start at $50,171 that is because Loudoun has one of the highest hiring salaries. The raises and benefit are not as good as surrounding counties. Yes the max is $107,190, for someone with a doctoral degree at step 30. At step 1 that same person would only make $61,710. How many teachers in Loudoun do you think have a step doctoral at step 30? I'll bet very few if any. I do a lot of volunteer work in schools and know many teachers with tenure and they are not making $70-$80K a year. Most seem to make about $64K. If the average household median income is $136,000 how is their salary above the median?. Not all households have 2 wage earners, not everyone is married, or employed.


ace10

Again, you are showing that you cannot even read a calendar. Today is the 17th of October in the year 2019. Which means that the 2019 FISCAL YEAR, which you are quoting is not the CURRENT YEAR, because it ended on the 30th day of June. In other words, Loudoun County is operating under FISCAL BUDGET 2020. Is this really that complicated?


ace10

Unless you are looking at teachers' paychecks and/or W-2's OR know their education and employment history, you don't have a clue what they are making. Again, I am looking at PUBLISHED data. In 2012, LCPS hired Evergreen to conduct a study of employee data. Of the 5251 teachers in the data set, 3458 had a Master's degree or higher. That's 66% of all teachers. Average tenure was 9.2 years. A step 10 Master's teacher is earning $75,500 this fiscal year for nine months of work.


amerigirl

Ace, true, and really do you have to be such a bully? I have tried to explain this to you and I will try again. The budget run starts in the middle of the year. However according to the Loudoun site “Notice of Real Estate Assessments Mailed to Property Owners, Real estate in Virginia is assessed at 100% of its fair market value. Every year, in January/ February, you will receive an assessment showing your new assessed value.” We still do not have an assessment for the new budget that was passed in April because they are working off the assessment from the prior January/February. Is this really that complicated?



That is the problem, you are looking at data on teachers that is 7 years old.


Virginia SGP

Ace is correct. Amerigirl is clueless. Taxes paid this fall use the tax rate for FY20 (2019-2020) and the assessment from CY19. Maybe one reason why we have such bad elected officials is because so many cannot understand basic budget facts.


amerigirl

The leftist this the leftist that blah blah blah.


LetSanityPrevail

I like Mr. Venkatachalam’s practical and realistic approaches. In particular I appreciate his goal of ensuring safety through SROs in all schools, it just middle and high schools. His comment on diversity is spot on. While diversity should be recognized no group should be treated more favorably or unfavorably than another. His additional comment on ensuring arts and civics are taught is also very encouraging. We are seeing the disassembling of America due to the reduced understanding of civics (not politics which we are over loaded with).


Virginia SGP

So let me get this straight. Teachers (who earn more than the median Loudoun income, both for singles and households) supposedly cannot afford to live so they.... live in (the more expensive) Fairfax?! Say what Ian Serotkin?







Maybe Ian should share whatever he is smoking. If he believes teachers (who retire at the ripe ol age of 52 with a $50k/yr pension for life) are moving to Fairfax to save money. Oh, did Ian forget to tell us that LCPS teachers also earn over $40k more than Fairfax teachers over a 40-yr career? But he still wants to give all of them (good, bad, horrific) 10% raises each user as far as the eye can see. Ian couldn't care less about the single parent trying to make ends meet with a private sector hourly job. He thinks they should pay more in taxes so the gov't workers can have lavish vacations during their 9+ week summer holiday.


Duncan Idaho

Teachers earn more than the median Loudoun income? Who knew? Maybe I should consider a career switch, since I currently earn less than that.







Average teacher salary in Loudoun is actually less than $50K/year, which puts it at less than the median household income for Loudoun. Sounds like your facts are wrong.


DavisB

of course he has the facts wrong. He also neglects to mention that the pensions are paid for by teachers themselves, not a gift


ace10

The irony is simply delicious when someone claims another's facts are wrong, immediately after they post information which is 100.0% incorrect.


Virginia SGP

Nice to know Duncan "I have always been a hardcore Leftist but I like to claim I was once a moderate Republican" Duncan is sharing his "knowledge" with us. Neither he nor DavisB have a clue what they are talking about. I must credit Duncan for putting his ignorance down on (virtual) paper this time so we can all see how clueless he is. DavisB normally just plays victim by claiming "personal attacks" when somebody posts facts he doesn't like. DavisB, have you ever posted a fact? Here are some.







1. ~70% of LCPS teachers have a Masters degree.







2. A teacher with a masters degree starts out with $69,500 in compensation ($59,500 in salary alone). I have no idea why you think it is less than $50K. Can't read?







3. A pair of teachers starting a HOUSEHOLD (common metric in Loudoun) earn $139K out of the gate. Within 3 years, they are over $150K as a household. Both the single and the household numbers ($75K for single and $150K for pair) are GREATER than the median Loudoun single/household incomes respectively.







4. DavisB, teachers contribute to their pensions. But LCPS pays an ADDITIONAL 17% of a teacher's salary for that pension. That is absolutely part of their compensation. If you don't agree, let's stop making that 17% contribution and we'll save $100M's.







5. LCPS teachers also receive $3500/year more in health benefits than even the generous Fairfax plan. That is far more than private sector workers get.







Once upon a time, folks felt guilty for putting out false nonsense. Not so with the radical Duncan and DavisB.


amerigirl

Ace , you can easily look up both figures the income and salary, it is are public information. Try to get the facts sometime, maybe before you try to say that someone is wrong and make a fool of yourself.


Duncan Idaho

VirginiaSGP: What's your source? Mine is indeed.com and it lists just under $50K as average in Loudoun. Also, the name calling, while very Trump-like, is really unnecessary.


Virginia SGP

WABE guide. FY20 appropriated LCPS budget. LCPS audit report and VRS tools. VRS also confirmed this on a question I asked them via Facebook about a year ago.


amerigirl

Teachers do not earn more than the median Loudoun income. Can you at least start you thread with a truth?


Virginia SGP

Are you quoting Indeed too? Lord, help us all.


DavisB

SGP adds in benefits to teachers salaries but not to anyone else's. This inflates teachers while minimizing his own and all others - how convenient


Virginia SGP

DavisB no. Not at all.







All private professional employees get: salary, 401k match, standard health but no pension.







LCPS get: salary (for 185 days of work), 401k match, PENSION, and a gold-plated healthcare that is $3500/yr richer than even the extremely generous Fairfax Sxhools plan. If LCPS teacher had to contribute $4000 more to their health plan than Fairfax teachers or private employees, you would certainly include that in your comparison. But for some "unknown reason (we actually know exactly what it is - you want to hide the true compensation of LCPS employees to extort more from taxpayers), you don't include pensions or Cadillac health payments by LCPS in your comparisons.


DavisB

SGP - yes, you do. How else do you get from the posted pay rates to the numbers you use? You continually tout retirement and benefits for teachers - just above you talk about health care - if you are going to talk about these for teachers, it is only fair to add them to your salary and everyone else's .

Virginia SGP

DavisB, health benefits for private sector = X. Health benefits for LCPS teachers = X + $3800.

See WABE guide that shows annual health &insurance benefits for LCPS teachers is $22,670. That is astronomical.

DavisB

SGP - teachers do not have a 401k program and do not get a match - but you and many others on the are do. Just about everyone in the area, especially those making big bucks, have decent health care. Additionally, teachers work 196 days a year (not counting for grading and lesson planning and training done on personal time) while those in the area can easily get 3-4 weeks of vacation plus holidays which puts them at 230-235 days - additionally, what other valuable benefits are common? How about paid education, cell phone allowances, bonuses, stock, meals, discounts, travel, conferences, and so much more.

Bottom line, teachers are not getting rich and are not retiring as well as those, like you, in our area.

DavisB

SGP - your reliance on Fairfax's numbers startles me in how in appropriate it is, especially concerning you assertion that Loudoun teachers health care is more valuable that any others'. Fairfax is able to buy health care at a lower price because of the size of their system, but it provides the same coverage (POS) as so many other private and public organizations including Loudoun. You way of thinks would mean that if both systems used the same math textbook but Loudoun paid $100 and Fairfax bought them for $90, Loudoun students were getting a more valuable book - but it is the same book - and the same health care coverage - Loudoun teachers are not earning more simply because the economies of scale favor the larger system.

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