Superintendent pledges to bring the fun back in FCPS


Editors from over 20 FCPS high schools gather for a press conference with Superintendent Scott Brabrand to address questions of concern in their communities on Oct. 23.

In a press conference with student journalists from all over the county, FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand pledged to students that he was focused on being school-centered and creating a connection with students.

Brabrand, in a press conference for high school journalists on Oct. 24, answered questions from Fairfax’s journalism students at Gatehouse Center in an event that occurs one to two times a year.

Brabrand’s first priority as superintendent is to increase teacher salary pay.

“I am going to double down [on teacher’s pay.] We need to move teacher pay faster,” Brabrand said. “There is a four year program [in place to make it happen], but I want to do it in two years. I am going to ask for almost $50 million additional dollars just to get our teachers their compensation.”

In FCPS, the salary that a teacher makes is determined by the “step” that they are on, which is determined by the number of years of experience they have teaching and the degree they hold.

For example, a teacher on step one with a Master’s Degree in teaching would make $53,707, whereas a teacher on step 20 with a Master’s Degree would make $89,778. The average salary for all teachers in FCPS is around $59,108, which is standard for most Virginia public schools. Brabrand is looking toward the Board of Supervisors and the state to provide the county with the additional $50 million.

“We are not going to keep getting the best and brightest teachers if we are paying them under the market. We are just not, so I am looking for the community to step up. I think they will. A few cents more here and a few dollars there. I think our teachers are worth every bit of it,” Brabrand said. “Only the Board of Supervisors can decide the way to fund it. Property taxes are one way. There are other taxes that can be a possibility, but those aren’t my decisions. My decision is the budget which I think is real.”

For teachers in Fairfax County, the lack of pay raises can have a much more profound impact than in other counties in the region. Being one of the richest counties in the U.S., maintaining a middle class lifestyle in the county can require teachers to take second and third jobs.  

“How do we make sure they have a salary that is commensurate with the professionals that they are and that allows them to have a good living not necessarily be the richest financially of any occupation in Northern Virginia, but to have a solid middle class lifestyle,” Brabrand said. “Every teacher deserves that. We have teacher who are trying to work two jobs and work in the summer, and that is just ridiculous. We have got to pay our teachers more to have a great school system.”

He further went on to emphasize that teachers are what keeps the county functioning which is why he wants to ensure that the county has the best and the brightest teachers. One of the ways he hopes to do so is through recruiting a more diverse teaching staff to reflect the county’s diversity. He hopes to have a plan to better the diversity of  the teaching staff in front of the School Board by January.

One plan that he has looked at is recruiting the younger teachers of color and connecting them to their diverse networks at their colleges and universities. He cited the strong Middle Eastern community in Michigan, Hispanic population in Texas, and various strong diverse networks across the country.

“How do we get anybody of all backgrounds to leave where they are and come? I think we need to connect with our youngest teachers or newest teachers to come,” Brabrand said.

His focus was not only on the teacher’s diversity, but to help all students of all different backgrounds as well. When asked about his stance on helping student affected by the push to rescind DACA, Brabrand reasserted his promise to give all students an outstanding education.

“Day to day we need to be focused on giving you a world class education, not on the latest press conference from someone in the White House or in Congress,” Brabrand said. “Honestly, kids don’t decide whether they move countries or move up and go. We need to give a shot at making sure our kids feel welcome at every one of our schools regardless of their immigration status.”

He went further to cite the Supreme case Plyer v. Doe(1982) which says that schools systems do not have the right to ask about your legal status, and he intended to follow the law.

Trying to ensure that all students get equal opportunity, Brabrand is also pushing for students who have just immigrated to get additional support when trying to graduate. At AHS, there has been a steady increase of English Learners. There were over 500  students registered who were registered last year alone, but Brabrand hopes to further help them to graduate.

“I wrote a letter to the state superintendent asking for students who come new into  high school  with little language background in English. They shouldn’t have to graduate in four years and have the graduation rate count against them or the school,” said Brabrand. “We are asking for common sense changes to stop punishing kids who come  to this country who don’t know English yet and we have to slap them with ‘you have to graduate in four years or you have to pass this science.’”

Annandale has one of the biggest ESOL programs in the county to help hundreds of students from a variety of countries, including, but not limited to Ethiopia, Vietnam and El Salvador. Because they are pushed to graduate in four years, those students with little-to-no English speaking background have to overextend themselves to learn the language while having to learn a variety of subjects in this new language.

“I do think we need to look at how we deliver resources  in support for those students and  I am confident we can get some additional flexibility to help them and we want to continue to have staffing we have ESOL staffing that each school gets to help provide additional  teachers to the school to help,” Brabrand said.

Brabrand addressed issues of mental health, free speech and the school calendar in hopes of creating transparency between the administration and students.  

Brabrand ultimately hopes to use his position to create a system for students where they are able to enjoy coming everyday, rather than school being a terrible burden. He has several plans for the county that hopes to bolster an image of greatness for the school system.

“We need to have a system where students feel loved. We can’t take the fun out of education. We can’t take the fun out of Fairfax. Fairfax needs to be about high standards and great success, but it needs to be about fun too,” Brabrand said.