Free Lance-Star reporter Amy Umble covers Stafford County schools and other education issues

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State program boosts teacher pay in Northern Virginia

The public hearing on Stafford schools’ budget is tonight. And if it goes like most, many teachers will show up and tell the School Board that they could make a lot more money if they worked in neighboring Prince William County.

The School Board members are aware of the pay difference.  But chances are, Stafford County teachers aren’t going to make the same money as Prince William teachers–even if the School Board members can find the money for the 6.5 percent raise they are considering.

This is because of a state program that gives Northern Virginia school district money to provide competitive salaries in regions with the highest cost of living in the state.

This cost-of-competing program started in the 1990s. It was later expanded to include localities outside of Northern Virginia, including Stafford, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg and Culpeper.

But those four localities—along with others like Fauquier and Winchester —receive a smaller percentage of cost-of-competing money than localities closer to Washington, D.C.

A recent report to the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission does recommend adding Stafford to the same group as Fauquier, Loudoun, Manassas, Manassas Park and Prince William. It also recommends cutting Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg from the program altogether.

Interestingly, in that same report, only Prince William and Culpeper counties said that applicants turned down jobs because they could make more money somewhere else.