After a two-year salary freeze, Fairfax County teachers are lobbying the School Board to spend anticipated federal funds on pay raises instead of hiring hundreds of new instructors.Hey, the teachers don't care about such a problem. They want to get a raise locked in so that they'll keep getting the higher wages. And they don't care about hiring new teachers even if that might relieve their exhaustion. It's all about getting more money for themselves. As Andrew Biggs points out, average wages in Fairfax County have dropped by 2.5% in the past two years and there hasn't been inflation so they can't be basing their demands for a pay raise on the cost of living.
With budgets shrinking and enrollment growing, teachers have not received even cost-of-living raises, and some are among several thousand employees who have been hit by non-salary pay cuts. County teachers - pleading low morale and difficult schedules - are looking to a possible $21.3 million federal windfall for respite.
But that plan might clash with both the School Board's plans and the spirit of the Obama administration's $10 billion education jobs bill, which federal officials said was intended to save or create 160,000 teaching jobs.
In Fairfax, concerns remain high about a possible budget shortfall in fiscal 2012. Some board members have expressed doubts about using one-time federal funds for an ongoing expense such as a permanent pay raise for the county's 14,000 teachers.
"Because the $21.3 million is not a recurring income, we can't commit to spending it on a recurring expense," said Ilryong Moon, an at-large member of the board....
Raises for existing teachers - while permitted by the jobs bill approved in August - would do little to advance the goal of creating or saving teaching positions. But Fairfax teachers say there would be other benefits to the county's more than 170,000 students.
"The workforce right now is completely physically and emotionally exhausted," said Steve Greenburg, president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers. "These teachers have had to take second and third jobs. It's taking its toll."
Greenburg's organization and the county's other teachers union, the Fairfax Education Association, are requesting a 2 percent cost-of-living pay raise for teachers, beginning in the second half of this school year. The cost would be about $18 million in this fiscal year.
Is that really why Congress passed such supposedly emergency spending - to give raises to people who already have jobs?