With pay raise bill still unresolved, schools begin closing for Friday

With pay raise bill still unresolved, schools begin closing for Friday

With pay raise bill still unresolved, schools begin closing for Friday

One of the union leaders, Dale Lee, said they believe the next step should be for teachers and service personnel to return to school. The initiative began at Marshall University and spread to schools like Concord University, in Mercer County.

Such a course of action is known as a "wildcat strike" but the wildcat-like nature of the strike was tamped down as union bosses quickly moved to follow their membership and endorsed the statewide school closure tactics-known colloquially as "55 Strong".

Leaders of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, the West Virginia Education Association and the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association met throughout the day with Justice's chief of staff, Mike Hall, who said around midday that the governor would not be at the Capitol.

"There is little good about the PEIA part but we hope the task force gets started, gets it fixed and in place by October", Merritt said.

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But the state Senate rejected a plan to summarily approve the deal, instead sending it to a committee that is not scheduled to meet this week. Carmichael reportedly wants to use the $58 million of state revenue projections toward funding PEIA.

"If they do not, we have gained nothing", Stover said. "This year revenue is running ahead of the previous year for the first time in many years".

As the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported in 2016, Manchin later questioned the wisdom of the tax cuts he'd championed once the state was facing a budget hole of $353 million.

He said he was very concerned that 40 of West Virginia's 55 counties have excess school levies going before voters in May, and the pay raise bill could negatively affect their outcomes. If the revenue falls short it won't hurt PEIA, it simply won't increase its reserve. Davis said she would much rather see that happen than get the promised raise.

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Earlier, during the Senate floor session, the Democrats made a motion for the pay raise bill to be discharged from committee.

"First they said a 5 percent raise and fix PEIA, then they said there isn't any money for a 5 percent raise", Waddell explained. "I'm not ready to go back to school until it's passed through both the House and the Senate", said elementary school teacher Chloe Adkins. The PEIA board has agreed to freeze rates in the coming year.

The state is ranked 48th in teacher salaries and has more than 725 classrooms without a full-time certified teacher in the respective subject areas.

Outside the Senate chamber, hundreds of teachers chanted "Pass that bill" and sang John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads". That Task Force is being formed right now and will be appointed by the end of the week to address and explore all avenues that will lead to a permanent fix for PEIA.

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Justice intervened on Tuesday after both sides refused to budge.

"Teachers and service personnel are nervous about what is going on in Charleston because, unfortunately, we've been lied to before", said Michelle Liga, President of AFT-Preston.

"I do not trust any politician who gives a verbal promise, I only have trust when something is in writing", Shady Spring Middle School teacher Karissa Davis said.

Gov. Jim Justice's proposed 5 percent pay raise to end the walkout by West Virginia teachers is getting a mixed reception in the Legislature where approval is needed. As a result, all instructional days lost will be rescheduled in the calendar at a later time.

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