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Fairfax County, Va., Merit Pay Loses Teachers'-Union Support

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The largest teachers' union in Fairfax County, Va., last week withdrew its support from the district's performance-based pay plan, which had gained national recognition. In a ballot conducted this month and released last week, members of the Fairfax Education Association voted 4,275 to 748 against the plan, which they had supported in three previous votes.

Although the district could still mandate a plan that links pay to evaluations, the cooperation of teachers has long been considered essential to the program's success.

The vote followed the school board's decision last month to change the award for top-rated teachers from a 10 percent pay hike to a 9 percent salary bonus. (See Education Week, Feb. 22,2p41989)

Although that move could save the district approximately $2.7 million, the fea's president, Walter J. Mika Jr., said it was the "straw that broke the camel's back."

The question now, he said, is "when do we bury" the program. He predicted last week that few teachers would continue to volunteer for the extra evaluations that go with the program's top rewards.

The school board is scheduled to review the program this summer.

In a live teleconference broadcast to most of the county's schools last week, Superintendent Robert R. Spillane appealed to teachers to join the district in making the program work. He also said the evaluations created as part of the program would continue.--lo

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