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Teacher pay, benefits a focus

Stafford County School Board members sketched a road map for the division’s future at their retreat Thursday, putting compensation and benefits and budget preparation at the top of a list of priorities.

Evaluation of countywide programs was also a goal that board members set.

Compensation and benefits have come face to face between the School Board and Board of Supervisors at recent meetings, with teachers holding up posters protesting their salaries. First-year Stafford teachers make less than those in some neighboring divisions, but gain ground the longer they teach in the county.

Stafford teachers with bachelor’s degrees start out making $37,419, according to the salary scale on the school’s Human Resource Department website. A Stafford teacher with a bachelor’s degree at the 10th step makes $47,666. Years of service is a factor in advancing steps.

A Fauquier County teacher with a bachelor’s degree makes $45,597 at the 10th step, but starts off by making $42,315.

A teacher with a bachelor’s degree in Spotsylvania County makes about $39,000 starting out, and $44,556 after 10 years, according to the county’s most recently adopted salary scale.

Compensation was discussed at the retreat after a consultant’s survey of the board showed it to have a goal to improve compensation.

Budget preparation and alignment, another retreat topic, essentially means making the budget process more transparent and reworking the timing of the budget preparation, according to School Board member Patricia Healy.

“I think the reason was because in the past, there has always been questions about the whole process the whole budget preparation and the transparency in it,” Healy said. “We want to make sure everybody understands what is in the budget.”

She said that adding transparency to the budget and making it more user-friendly will be for everybody’s benefit, including School Board members. She added that she would like to see the budget process start sooner.

Re-examining the programs offered by the school, such as the International Baccalaureate Program, was a topic of discussion during the budget adoption process this year. At the time, board members received enrollment numbers and cost of some of the programs, but didn’t take any action.

Schools Superintendent Bruce Benson also said that he will be looking again at the division’s strategic plan.

School Board Chairwoman Nanette Kidby said that she did not name the strategic plan a priority in her survey because she has never heard any feedback about the current strategic plan, despite the thousands that were spent to develop it.

“It seems to be an ineffective tool,” School Board member Dana Reinboldt added. She said that the group that crafted the plan several years ago consisted mainly of administrators and ended up being a job justification list.

Benson said that another look at the strategic plan will rely on data.

The strategic plan was of particular concern for School Board member Scott Hirons, who agreed that its foundation should be hard numbers.

Vanessa Remmers: 540/735-1975