With the Warren County Board of Supervisors vote on the 2020 fiscal budget imminent, Warren County Education Association President Kim Okland has published a letter asking the Board of Supervisors to adopt the 2020 budget as it is.

In the letter, which was published as an advertisement in the Northern Virginia Daily on Monday, Okland asked for the board to approve the budget, which would help begin the county School Board’s efforts to increase teacher salaries to a more competitive range. The proposed budget includes a 65.5-cent tax rate for Warren County, a 6-cent increase over last year.

In an email, Okland said that the tax increase and the approval of the proposed $59,594,893 education budget would be helpful to getting the salary increases underway.

“The full funding of the education budget is critical in getting our salaries to a competitive range and is a first step in retaining our experienced teachers,” Okland stated

The School Board has been working on increasing pay to discourage teachers from leaving Warren County for other school districts that offer better pay and benefits. Okland said that every school budget planning session for the past several years has included discussion of a need to bring the district’s salary levels to a competitive rate to help the school division from falling further behind.

“I have taught in Warren County a long time,” she stated. “I am able to stay because my husband is in another profession. But that is not the case for many of our teachers. A number of them have to live out of county because our rental market is so scarce. For those teachers, it's a no-brainer to leave and go to the county where they live and get a pay increase and pay less for insurance.”

Okland noted that if the budget does not pass, it would be a blow to the planned teacher pay increases.

“If this plan is not implemented, the Board of Supervisors is sending the message that they do not value education, a message that will be taken seriously by not just our teachers, but also our students and any future businesses looking at moving into our community,” she said. “The citizens of Warren County have gotten a lot more than they pay for from the schools for a number of years. It's time to pay for the incredible bargain they've been getting.”

The Board of Supervisors will meet at 7 tonight for a public hearing on the budget.

Contact Donald Lambert at dlambert@nvdaily.com