Fairfax Co. school board passes collective bargaining resolution for teachers, other staff

Welcome to the School Zone, WTOP’s weekly feature about the latest topics and trends in education across the D.C. region.

Fairfax County school board passes collective bargaining measure 

What it is: The Fairfax County, Virginia, school board on Thursday night unanimously passed a measure that gives thousands of teachers and other staff members collective bargaining rights.

In 2020, the state’s General Assembly gave local governing bodies the option of giving collective bargaining rights to public workers.

The county will have bargaining units, according to a school system presentation, for licensed instructional staff like full and part-time teachers, school counselors and librarians, among others; operational workers, such as those who work in food service; and administrators and supervisors, like principals and other administrators, among others.

Substitute teachers and temporary employees are excluded from bargaining units.

Members of the bargaining unit, according to the county, will pick a representative via a majority vote. The school board will then certify the results.

What it means: In accordance with Virginia law, members of the bargaining units aren’t allowed to go on strike.

However, according to the approved resolution, topics that can be negotiated include pay, hours and benefits.

The school board said Thursday night that the measure will benefit staff members and therefore will also benefit students.

Regional snapshot: Several other Northern Virginia school systems have adopted similar collective bargaining agreements. Prince William County schools, the state’s second-largest school system, is among them.

Talking points: School board member Karl Frisch said the vote, “is a demonstration not only of our commitment to improving school staffing, pay, and morale but also to better outcomes for students. In addition to engaged parents, there is no greater driver of student success than classroom teachers.”

There’s a “staffing crisis in public education,” Frisch said, suggesting bargaining will have a positive impact on staff and students.

The group Fairfax County Parents Association, though, said in a series of tweets that that argument was debunked during the pandemic because “the disastrous harm caused by closed schools was higher where teachers’ unions were stronger.”

By the numbers
Some data that caught my eye this week.

Enrollment projection: Arlington Public Schools, like many D.C.-area school systems, is currently working on its fiscal 2024 budget. As part of that process, it projects its K-12 enrollment to be 26,929 this fall, up from 26,439 in fall 2022. Enrollment is tied to the amount of funding a school system receives from the state, among other things.

What Scott’s reading

  • Fairfax Co. school system hits back at AG Miyares’ claims that college prep program discriminates [WTOP]
  • Judge says ex-chair Juanita Miller did not commit misconduct, should stay on Prince George’s Co. school board [WTOP] 
  • High school students explore DC gentrification in new short film [WTOP]
  • Black, Hispanic students disproportionately suspended for ‘disrespect,’ MCPS data shows [MoCo360]
  • Three Va. school systems to offer AP African American class amid review [Washington Post]
  • Education funding still unclear: Prince William schools waiting on state [InsideNova]

Field trip 

Here’s a fun thought ahead of the weekend.

Celebratory dinner: Dinner at D.C.’s Iron Gate is likely on tap. That, and, let’s hope Miami men’s basketball wins the ACC Tournament.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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