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Teacher walkout closes West Virginia public schools

22 February 2018

Those actions haven't affected teachers' walkout plans "and in some respects the pay bill upset them more", West Virginia Education Association spokeswoman Kym Randolph said Wednesday.

"It means a lot for us to come together in solidarity, not only standing up for teachers but for public employees across the state", said Ashley Gilbert, a music teacher at Explorer Academy. Service personnel throughout the state will also participate in the walkout, said union leaders.

According to a 2017 study that ranked each state's average teacher salary, West Virginia is the sixth worst in the country.

After that state police and school service personnel will get a one percent raise next year, while teachers will get a one percent raise in each of the following two years. They are upset over increasing health costs, a 1-percent pay raise that doesn't cover the cost of the premium increases for many, and concerns about proposed charter schools and school vouchers in West Virginia, she said.

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Lucinda Burns, a teacher at Point Harmony Elementary, told WSAZ earlier this month during a protest at the Capitol, "We need our students to have teachers who aren't anxious about a second job". It's the first time teachers have staged a statewide strike in 30 years. "We certainly recognize our teachers are underpaid", Justice says.

In Monongalia County, which includes Morgantown, Superintendent Frank Devono said all schools will be closed Thursday and Friday, lacking sufficient staff to safely operate schools or transport and feed students.

Earlier Tuesday, the Public Employees Insurance Agency agreed to freeze premiums and rates for the next fiscal year for teachers and other public workers covered by the plan. The two-day work stoppage was scheduled to continue on Friday.

"We want respect from the Legislature", Moray said. "It shows we're willing to compromise", said Del.

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Former Ohio County teacher of the year Heidi Hohman was on the picket line at Triadelphia, and said in recent years she has mentored eight student teachers she termed "excellent", and ready to lead in the the classroom.

The state's attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, wrote in a statement the "impending work stoppage is unlawful". Our office is prepared to support any relevant state agency or board with legal remedies they may choose to pursue to uphold the law.

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Teacher walkout closes West Virginia public schools