Loudoun Superintendent Eyes Teacher Pay Hikes as Budget Priority

Talk of Fairfax County boosting teachers’ pay has Loudoun school leaders looking to keep up as they try to attract and retain experienced educators.

Loudoun County Public Schools recruits and hires more teachers than any school system in Virginia, to provide for the additional 3,000-plus students it enrolls each year. But Fairfax County is attracting applicants with more experience, and pay may be a factor, Assistant Superintendent of Finance E. Leigh Burden told School Board members this week.

“We have anecdotal data from our principals that they see a lot of rookie applicants and they don’t see a lot of experienced teachers looking to come work here,” she said.

What’s more, if Fairfax follows through with another round of raises, Burden estimates a Fairfax teacher with a master’s degree will make $260,000 more in her 30-year career than a Loudoun teacher with a master’s degree.

Superintendent Eric Williams told School Board members during a work session Tuesday that he wants to set aside as much as $27.2 million next fiscal year for pay raises for teachers, in an effort to keep pace with nearby jurisdictions. That would equate to a raise of roughly $4,184 per teacher, on average.

The request would be in line with the School Board’s goal in recent years to improve pay, especially for mid-level teachers, where Loudoun trails behind its neighbors. But to continue making notable progress, it would likely require a countywide tax increase.

School Board member Jeff Morse (Dulles) agreed that improving teachers’ pay is a goal worth pursuing, but said it may be hard to convince the Board of Supervisors, which holds the county’s purse strings, to fund a budget that could give teachers as much as a 6 percent pay increase.

“That’s a significant increase across the board. That’s something we’re going to struggle with justifying when we go to the Board of Supervisors,” Morse said.

Several board members said that pay is only one factor that will keep teachers in Loudoun. Morale, benefits and providing services like mentoring programs also have proven effective in retaining employees, they said.

Most teachers could earn more working in the private sector, noted Joy Maloney (Broad Run), who was a teacher and now works as an IT professional. “Certainly, it is job satisfaction that keeps them here.”

Many of the county’s 6,000 teachers are women of “child-bearing age,” Beth Huck (At Large) pointed out. “So a lot of the time compensation isn’t enough for them to afford child care,” she said. “If we could pay them a little more for them to afford child care, that might be something to consider.”

Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge) and Debbie Rose (Algonkian) cautioned their colleagues to be careful to not get caught up in a “keeping up with the Joneses” scenario. “Is it just simply whatever Fairfax does we’re supposed to do, rather than a focus on what our needs are here, inside of our budgetary constraints,” Rose asked.

The school system has made progress over the past few years to improve pay for educators in the middle of their career. But Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn) agreed with Williams that there is still work to be done.

“I do think we have evidence to suggest we have a higher resignation rate in some areas,” he said. “… If we don’t continue to make improvements, we will lose ground.”

Williams said that pay certainly is not the only factor teachers consider when choosing a school district, but it is a big one. “There are other steps that need to be a part of recruitment and retention,” he said, “but this certainly is one part.”

The superintendent said a request for pay raises will be part of his budget proposal, which he will present in full on Jan. 12.

 

dnadler@loudounnow.com
twitter.com/danielle_nadler

15 thoughts on “Loudoun Superintendent Eyes Teacher Pay Hikes as Budget Priority

  • 2016-12-02 at 2:09 pm
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    I’ve actually never posted to one of these but I thought I would today. First let me say my mother was a public school teacher in a different state for 30 years. I have a very high level of respect for great teachers and I personally understand the amount of time, dedication and sometimes emotional toll teaching can take. Having said that, I am now an IT professional as is my husband. My husband hires programmers all the time and I can tell you he would not pay a fresh out of college graduate 90K a year for a bachelors degree. He would pay more than 65K though. But with that you have to keep in mind that person will only get 3 weeks of vacation. He or she would be expected to routinely work more than 40 hours a week as that is just how IT jobs go. Also, at best, the company would have a 401K but might only match say 3%. Add on to that expensive health insurance premiums with the high deductibles so common in work place insurance these days and I don’t know that in real terms the private sector employee is making that much more than the public school teacher.
    As teachers get older and start families they don’t have to pay for childcare in the summer months or on snow days. I pay about $70 a day for extra day care every snow day and around $180 – $225 a week in the summer for camps because we both work.
    Teacher pay should be competitive, it should be fair, and it should in some way account for the intangible things that teachers have to deal with everyday. However, it should also reflect and recognize the benefits of less work days than a private sector employee, and all the retirement and health benefits.

    • 2016-12-02 at 3:58 pm
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      Yes, Loudounmom – $65k before benefits for an entry level programmer. This compares with $49k for an entry level teacher.

      Regarding your other comments: I don’t agree. You mention that older teachers do not have to pay for daycare so that should count against them or that you have to pay for summer camp meaning I guess that teacher don’t send their own kids to day care or summer camp? Or are you only talking about the few snow days we have?

      Teacher pay accounts for many intangible things just as all pay does. To berate teachers, as SGP does, for caring about their economic stability is simply cruel.

      • 2016-12-02 at 8:58 pm
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        So much distortion from CareerSwitcher. It is true that our effective math/STEM teachers are likely underpaid. But you have Ivy League liberal arts majors who can barely pull down $40-50k. All majors are not created equally. Many of the non-STEM teachers simply couldn’t pursue IT jobs. They still provide a valuable service but are well paid relative to supply and demand.

        Also, we sometimes have very effective liberal arts majors. Teacher of the year John Tuck was a liberal arts major but taught most of the 5th grade math classes at Rolling Ridge and achieved stellar results. Yet he couldn’t move up (get raises) any faster than an ineffective history teacher. Our system is broken. This is why the US DoE required use of SGP-type scores but LCPS simply defrauded them.

        The private market pays workers based on skills and demands. CareerSwitcher has proven STEM teachers should get paid more because of demand for their skills. Why don’t you convince the LEA of that now?

  • 2016-12-02 at 12:27 pm
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    Can’t reply to your last dribble, SGP, but you cannot simply make up private sector pay. Take a look at any job posting or the very valid salary.com or any of the many other sites. If a student graduates with a bachelors in a STEM field and becomes a programmer here in the DMV, they immediately earn more than any teacher with a bachelor degree. Compare any education level and experience level and you see that IT jobs pay more. You have promoted this fact for years. Most other professions in the area show these same results. Even when you include benefits for both teachers and non-teachers, teachers earn less starting out and over their career. Now, teachers know this going into the field and accept it. Anyone switching to teaching from industry knows this as well. For you to keep challenging reality is wrong on so many levels.

  • 2016-11-30 at 7:30 pm
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    To make a valid comparison between Loudoun teacher pay and Fairfax’s, benefits must also be included in the calculus. If Loudoun’s benefits are better, then just comparing salary is deceptive.

    Perhaps more part-time teachers who would make more money in the private sector can be hired for difficult-to-fill positions, such as in the computer sciences or math. Though not a part-time hire, my advanced algebra teacher was retired military. Former teachers who elected to stay at home with their children may be able to teach one class. I don’t know if this type of hiring is being done.

    • 2016-12-01 at 9:14 am
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      It is not RERay. In fact, many retired military veterans have always been interested in teaching as a second career. They receive 1/2 of their base pay as a pension so you can attract some highly qualified STEM teachers as “career switchers”.

      The kicker is that school boards can hire them at any level they wish commensurate with their experience. For example, let’s say you had a military veteran who actually taught STEM courses in one of their academies/schools/etc. Certainly, that would qualify him/her to start out at step 10 or 15. What does LCSB do even though they recognize they are weak in STEM? Every single career switcher starts at the bottom – step 1. Of course, this is mainly to placate the union. I mean, LEA president Dave Palanzi taught business courses for many years even though he has never had any relevant experience and always worked as a teacher. It’s obvious to him that any actually qualified candidate should have to start at step 1; otherwise, the power of his precious union would be diminished.

      Other districts are taking innovative approaches. Many have STEM teacher recruiting departments. A friend was recruited by NC schools to serve as a STEM teacher because she had been working as a post-graduate student at one of her university’s STEM departments (also had some teaching experience). They offered to bring her in around a step 5 even though she was still young.

      And Dallas, TX has set up a position-based system. You get promoted to the next higher position as you demonstrate effectiveness and contribute outside your classroom (e.g. department chair, curriculum committee, etc.). LCPS Teacher of the Year John Tuck had amazing student growth scores and contributed to nearly every org in his school. But in LCPS, this only hurt his compensation. Since he didn’t get a piece of paper (NBCT credential), he wasn’t eligible for ANY additional bonus even though he is likely one of the most effective teachers in the district. He earned about 1/2 of what LEA President Dave Palanzi earned simply because he had not paid his dues. In Dallas, Tuck could have moved to the top stop within 8 years. And if a “business teacher” with no experience was not effective at teaching his students, he might remain at a mid-level step even after 30 years.

      We should pay teachers based on responsibilities and effectiveness like every other business/sector. But when you have no LCSB members with any STEM experience, why should we expect them to improve our STEM performance?

  • 2016-11-30 at 7:20 pm
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    CareerSwitcher is woefully uninformed on so many things. It is true I will not tout what I actually do because people couldn’t care less. This is about policies, not about how one private citizen/taxpayer contributes.

    Next, CareerSwitcher claims there are an infinite number of new positions paying $90K/yr to brand new programmers and any teacher could go get such a job. Let’s put that through the fact checker. The median salary for a male in Loudoun is $89K/yr and roughly $68K/yr for a female (due to the types of jobs they hold). That’s median for mid-career workers. CareerSwitcher’s claim that any teacher could start out ABOVE the median is crazy. Plus, there are a limited number of jobs and you actually have to understand logic to program. By CareerSwitcher’s posts, we understand this is a nonstarter for him and so many others.

    But what are the actual facts? Could a teacher waltz into a programming shop and get a pay raise? In this WaPo story, the teacher admits she would have to take a $10,000 pay CUT to leave teaching. But yet CareerSwitcher keeps making baseless claims without facts. That’s the world he lives in now. The teacher is always right (kind of like Stalin, Castro, Kim Jung Un and all the other dictators) but needn’t show you any facts to support their claims.

    Next, let’s examine the actual dynamics of switching careers. I actually support this for well qualified folks (not ones who can’t do anything else a la Bill Fox). I had a great computer science teacher in high school. LCSB could offer them a starting salary commensurate with their ability and experience (say Step 15-20). But they don’t. They start all career switchers at the bottom, at step 1. Let’s see how this plays out. Dave Palanzi, the current LEA union president, supposedly taught “business” in LCPS even though he knows nothing about actually running a business. Palanzi started out as a teacher and has done nothing since. This makes about as much sense as Kim Jung Un explaining how a stock market works in detail. If an actual experienced business person wanted to come teach classes at LCPS, he/she would get paid 1/2 of what Palanzi earned just last year. So we have know-nothing Palanzi earning over $100K+ yet someone who knew what they were talking about would get half of that. It’s the same with teacher-of-the-year John Tuck who earned 1/2 of what Step 30 math teachers earned even if he was 10x more effective. That’s how communism works. Nothing else in America works like that but LEA’s Palanzi, the “business teacher”, supports such a caste system to the hilt. I can only assume his “rare bird” does too.

    The fact is CareerSwitcher is so lucky to have a teaching position because in any other field, he would take a pay cut. Yes, I think some very talented teachers should earn more (Tuck and other STEM teachers who are very effective). But none other than Paula Hornberger, spouse of the LCSB chairman, has received a 15% pay raise over 3 years without having to so much as demonstrate an ounce of effectiveness. The system is rigged by the greedy unions and the corrupt politicians. Don’t be fooled. Replace the school board, get a merit-based pay system in place, and halt these never-ending and limitless pay hikes.

    • 2016-12-01 at 8:41 am
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      More distortions, SGP.

      I do appreciate you finally acknowledging that anyone who switches from an industry or private sector job to go to teaching is looking at significant pay cuts.

      Regarding private sector pay, it is interesting that you include all the benefits that teachers earn but no benefits that anyone else earns. I urge people to use facts like those analyzed at salary.com to compare jobs and salaries for the DMV area. So, SGP, I challenge you to show us where you get your facts about private sector pay. You will be surprise how right I am about what a college graduate could expect to earn in IT vs teaching. In fact, you have often pushed for more students to enter STEM careers so I don’t understand how you can back off the fact that teachers will earn so much less over their careers.

      Bottom line is that I actually agree with you that teachers are paid via a system that needs improvement. The problem is that this improvement must happen nationwide, not just at Loudoun. Until then, you constant attacks on teachers is terrible.

      • 2016-12-02 at 7:44 am
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        I rely on actual statistically-valid samples like those by the census bureau, not by a few folks who report random data points. In the 2014 survey, we learned:

        – median household income was $122,300
        – median male full-time worker income was $95,700
        – median female full-time worker income was $60,800

        So, a first year teacher with a masters degree is already earning $65K/yr or more than the median female worker. At step 30 (around age 52), a teacher can earn over $130K/yr or more than $35K more than the median male full-time worker. Add in 2-teacher families (or even a teacher and a private sector worker), and nearly everyone is solidly in the upper middle class.

        We can change the pay system if we simply put pressure on our school board. It has nothing to do with other districts. In fact, DC has already reformed its pay system. So did Pittsburgh, and Dallas, and so on. Teachers shouldn’t whine for excessive salary “market adjustments” when they have received outsized increases in the last few years. This is merely an attempt to give school board members bigger paychecks and placate a greedy union.

        • 2016-12-02 at 9:57 am
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          Perhaps you should rely on actual data. For instance, a first year teacher with a masters earns 54,952 on the ’17 salary scale, not $65k. Unless you are accounting for benefits, then you must include benefits for alternative professions.

          The median income you keep reporting includes families and individuals of all levels of education and skills, not just professionals. For instance, you must adjust your thinking to acknowledge a non-teacher earning TWICE what a teacher earns by the time they have a PHD and have worked 30 years. You always forget that part. Somehow, you seem to only want to report that teachers are getting rich instead of what is actually happening.

          • 2016-12-02 at 11:29 am
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            CareerSwitcher prefers to use made up self-reported salary data with no comparisons for qualifications or experience. The median census data is very reliable and since the “median” is used, it is not skewed by the very low or the very high salaries.

            Here is the FY17 teachers’ salary (only) scale. But since teachers get very generous health benefits (I don’t even include this even though it increases teacher comp) and an 18% pension contribution by LCPS, a comparable private-sector equivalent pay scale is shown here.

            Starting private-sector equiv comp: $65,800 (Masters degree)
            Top private-sector equiv comp: $131,700 (Ed.D at Step 30)
            Annual pension at age 52: $50K/yr

            You apparently don’t even know how to include web links to your source data in these posts. But you suggest that you (or others) could get a programming job? Are you serious? There is a reason so many of you take easy liberal arts majors.

  • 2016-11-30 at 4:05 pm
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    Thanks for reminding me CareerSwitcher. Here are the facts:

    1. First year teachers earn over $65K/year in private-sector equivalent pay.

    2. A married pair of first-year teachers would earn $130K+/yr or more than the median Loudoun household income.

    3. A senior (step 30) teacher in Loudoun earns over $130K/yr by themselves, way more than the median male (or certainly female) worker in Loudoun.

    4. A pair of step 30 teachers earn over $250K/yr in private sector equivalent pay.

    5. At the ripe ol age of 52, LCPS teachers can retire with a $50K/yr pension for the rest of their lives.

    6. Teachers work less than 200 days/year. When prorated to what private sectors work, a pair of teachers would earn over $300K/yr.

    7. Teachers in the middle steps like Chairman Hornberger’s wife Paula received a 15% increase in just 3 years. How many of you receive 5% pay raises year after year after year.

    This school board is no different than all the entitled kids in Loudoun during Christmas who believe that Santa will give them anything they ask for while real needs go unmet. When you think your job as a parent is hard and your kids are selfish, think what it must be like to serve on the BOS with this bunch of childish, selfish, inept cronies at LCSB.

    • 2016-11-30 at 5:27 pm
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      Here are the fact that SGP does not want anyone to know.

      1. First year programmers earn over $90k/year in equivalent pay

      2. A married pair of first year programmers would earn $180k+/yea or way more than the median Loudoun household income.

      3. A senior level IT manager (15 + years, not 30) earns over $160k/year by themselves, way, way more than the median worker in Loudoun.

      4. A pair of IT managers earn over $320 k/year

      5. Retirement is a nice perk for teachers but does not make up financially for the deficit in earnings. The numbers SGP touts and those that I found on salary.com already account for retirement benefits. Certainly, anyone who has worked for the same company for 30 years and has earned pay raises, promotions, 401k matching and bonuses like those earned by the professionals in Loudoun has saved enough, even more, than the teacher retirement plan.

      6. The notion that teacher do not work beyond the contracted days and hours in nonsense. This discounts the work teachers do outside of school including taking classes, building lesson plans, attending conferences, etc. that are built into private sector jobs. It also discounts the fact that is terribly difficult to get a part time jobs for the time not in schools so the opportunity loss here is in actually dollars. So, the notion of prorating teacher pay makes no sense

      7. Teachers have not seen their net pay increase 5% year after year after year. This is simply not true.

      8. SGP continually uses the notion of married, PHD teachers who are milking the system but ignores the idea that they do not actually exist but married, two-earner, professional family do exist. This is why Loudoun can have so many huge houses, country clubs, high prices restaurants, and even in-door skydiving. Teachers are not the ones patronizing these businesses.

      9. The reason schools have trouble recruiting qualified teachers, especially from industry jobs, is that very few people are willing to cut their earnings in half all while being yelled at by SGP for being crooked and greedy.

      SGP is very different from the rest of Loudoun. I see families all over, especially this time of year, helping out neighbors and working toward making our neighborhoods better. SGP on the other hand, does nothing but post his gripes with the schools and the BOS, never actually getting involved in the community

  • 2016-11-30 at 3:48 pm
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    Hornberger is lying his tail off because he wants to increase his own household pay via his spouse, Paula Hornberger. Paula received a 15% raise over 3 years while the compensation of bus drivers was being cut and Hornberger voted to give pink slips to the math specialists despite noting LCPS needed to improve its math performance. Let’s see, give pink slips to math specialists while keep ALL the reading specialists including his wife Paula without ever disclosing a conflict of interest as required by Virginia statute 2.2-3112. Meanwhile the corrupt CA Plowman watches and smiles instead of prosecuting.

    1. In the Q&A for last year’s budget, LCPS provided data that teachers transfer from Fairfax to Loudoun at 3x the rate that teachers move from Loudoun to Fairfax. Thus, we are flooded with teacher applicants.

    2. Maybe if LCPS actually recruited, we could get the best teachers. We pay $20K more per year than Norfolk. One of the reasons I wanted the SGP data was to send blanket offer letters to teachers across Virginia with great scores. We simply don’t recruit the best experienced teachers out of Loudoun. Other cities like Houston hold job fairs in other states (like NC) to recruit experienced teachers. LCPS does nothing.

    3. It’s disingenuous for Burden to quote that $260K number. First, LCPS claims its teachers work beyond age 52. If so, LCPS senior teachers make as much/more than Fairfax senior teachers. Thus, the salary after age 52 is better in Loudoun AND the pension for teachers in both is the same. Very little difference on a per year basis.

    4. Also, Fairfax costs much more than Loudoun to live. Compare LCPS to teachers in Clarke county or WV and then you’ll see LCPS are among the best paid anywhere.

    When you allow political hacks to vote their own families pay raises year after year after year while ignoring real problems (math instruction, textbooks, bus drivers, dyslexia diagnosis), you end up with a broken system. That’s what this board has done. Completely inept and totally corrupt.

  • 2016-11-30 at 2:04 pm
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    Before SGP comes along, let me throw out that teachers are not getting rich. Their real wage has not risen of the past several years. College students entering teaching should expect to earn half what they could earn in the private sector even including extended time off an benefits. It is tough to find qualified people to switch from careers in industry because they can easily take a 50% or more pay cut. Desptie what SGP will post here, teachers do not retire as well as those in the private sector.

    Now, for SGP to tell us all that teachers do not know what they earn, cannot read their paystubs, are retires and living a luxurious life, and only work half as much as he does.

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