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Loudoun Co. teachers ask school board to increase pay

A group of state lawmakers are asking for an investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools treatment of students with special needs. (Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — Teachers and other staff lined up at the Loudoun County School Board’s recent meeting to ask its members to help them stay in their jobs on Tuesday.

The Loudoun County School Board is preparing to put together their 2019 fiscal year budget and teachers and other classified staff members want to make sure the district knows where they should be putting their money — into staff paychecks.

“I don’t want to be forced to have to leave something I have finally found my place in life to do. I want to grow and I want to continue,” said Loudoun County High teaching assistant Andrew Smith.

But he said, right now, that’s not happening.

“The county offers an affordable housing program. I am still making $6,000 less than the minimum required for someone who is single to qualify for that program,” Smith said.

Smith also said if teachers suffer, the effects are broad.

“Take care of us, because if we aren’t taken care of, our students aren’t taken care of either,” he said.

Smith isn’t alone in his concerns.

“Like many, I’ve had to take a part-time job in order to make ends meet,” said 22-year teacher Timothy Greening.

He shared how vast the difference in pay for Loudoun County teachers can be, even to neighboring counties.

“Across a career, a teacher with a master’s degree that works in LCPS for 30 years will make about $296,000 less than a teacher who works 30 years in Fairfax,” said Greening.

The classified staff includes not only teachers, but some teaching assistants, janitors and school nurses like Karen McCall. She said the pay she’s getting is not enough, and she has also been pushed to work a second job to make ends meet.

“Fourteen years of consistent, reliable and excellent evaluations have earned me $28,000 per year, after you subtract my health insurance,” said McCall. Her annual pay remains this low, despite the fact that McCall believes she has been essential in keeping students alive.

“I’ve saved two lives already this year by administering EpiPens to students with severe allergies. I am sure the parents would say my quick response is worth more than I am paid,” she said.

For some staff members, it’s too late. While Matthew Frisicaro found a passion for working as a teaching assistant with autistic students at Loudoun High School, he said he’s not making enough to get ahead in life. So, he’s leaving.

“This time in February, I’ll be in Daegu, South Korea, teaching English, making $8,000 more a year, having my housing paid for as well. I’ll be able to save $15,000 to $17,000 a year,” Frisicaro said.


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