June 22, 2024

Manassas School Board approves funds to correct experience-based pay scale for teachers

The Manassas City School Board voted Jan. 9 to approve funds allocated by the Manassas City Council for use as teacher compensation toward correcting pay step placement of certified teachers.

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The Manassas City School Board voted Jan. 9 to approve funds allocated by the Manassas City Council for use as teacher compensation toward correcting pay step placement of certified teachers.

The council allocated $1.5 million in funding for use at the discretion of the School Board. The Joint Compensation Task Force, made up of members from both the council and the School Board, agreed to allocate the funding toward correcting pay step placement of certified teachers.

Teacher steps are based on years of experience and correspond to salary. Typically, each year a teacher gains experience, they move up a step and their salary moves higher, too.

In Manassas City Public Schools, however, the school division found that a number of teachers had lost at least one step — and thus the corresponding salary bumps — due to previous caps on steps.

The previous step caps meant once teachers reached a certain number of years of experience, any years beyond that were treated as the same level of experience in the step scale.

“It’s a very complex problem, and it’s not a perfect solution but it is a step forward, and so I think we can be proud of that,” said board member Jill Spall.

The resolution will transfer $750,000 of funds being held in General Fund contingency to the Manassas City Public Schools for teacher compensation for the remainder of fiscal 2024. In fiscal 2025 and subsequent fiscal years, the city will transfer the full $1.5 million to Manassas City Public Schools to assist in funding teacher compensation.

School Board members voted 7-1 in favor of accepting the funds from the City Council while agreeing to pay an additional $137,400.58 in order to fully correct the pay step placement problem as well as pay for a 1% raise for all teachers.

Board member Sara Brescia cast the lone opposition vote on the proposal, saying the decision was coming outside of the School Board’s typical, regimented budgeting process.

“Part of my no vote is that this is happening outside of that process. And because this is a commitment forever if we vote yes tonight. We don’t know what we’re going to find,” Brescia said.

The pay step problem was initially thought to affect 76 teachers in Manassas City schools. However, after further review by the school division, officials found 148 teachers who lost at least one step in the pay step scale.

Those 148 teachers make up around 25% of the school division’s teaching staff.

In total the adjustment will cost the school division more than $1.77 million to correct the pay steps for the 148 teachers and to provide a 1% raise for all teachers. With the $1.5 million provided by the City Council, the school division will have to come up with $274, 801.16 for a year.

Since the school year has already started and the adjustment is considered a half year, Manassas City Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Newman said the school division would be responsible for $137,400.58.

History of the step cap in Manassas schools

Newman said the history of the cap step and teacher salary scale in the school division.

“In school year 2012-13, incoming teachers were capped at year 10. School year 2013-14, that number moved to 15, which means any teacher coming in with more experience than that were placed at step 15,” Newman said.

Depending on the time period hired, teachers were or were not given teaching experience credit for out-of-country teaching experience and/or private school teaching experience.

The disparity was found when human resources staff researched the division teacher step placement during the 2019-20 school year. That was the last year the school division capped teaching experience at step 15 before moving the placement guide that is now in place.

No step adjustment was provided for teachers who were capped prior to 2020-21, however, which is what the new funding is aiming to fix.

“As a teacher, in the past, I worked in many different schools, states and districts and I would have been discouraged if I got to a district and was told ‘Oh, I’m sorry, that experience didn’t count because we cap it at 10 [years]’ … I would be really discouraged if I had partial credit for my experience when someone coming in after this cap was lifted now gets full,” said board member Christina Brooks.

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