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SPRING MILLS, W.Va. — Dozens of teachers and parents gathered before school Friday for a walk-in near Spring Mills High School.

They were rallying to voice their concerns about pay raises and health insurance increases being considered in Charleston.

Teachers held signs expressing their upset over a proposed one-percent pay bump that they say will be eaten up by Public Employee Insurance Agency, or PEIA, premium increases.

Jessica Salfia is the President of the West Virginia Council of Teachers of English and former Berkeley County teacher of the Year.

She told WEPM News they rallied for roughly 30 minutes before school began at 7:15am then walked into the schools as a unified staff.

Salfia said they are trying to show the community how important the issue is for educators and students.

“A demonstration in numbers in terms of how many teachers feel very strongly about the changes to PEIA and the potential teacher cuts that are going to take place as a result of that.”

Salfia said many teachers will actually take a pay cut due to the changes.

Already they are losing teachers to neighboring states, putting students in the Eastern Panhandle at a disadvantage.

“We want what’s best for our students,” she said. “And right now our best teachers are going to Maryland and Virginia because they can’t afford to teach here.”

Rallies are planned for the next two consecutive Saturdays in Martinsburg, one Feb. 3 in Martinsburg and one on Feb. 10 for all public employees.

Salfia said that at this point a teacher’s strike is not being planned.

State lawmakers are mixed on what to do with the proposed changes.

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