JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. — The superintendent of schools in Jackson County is telling school employees there he does not want to see the kinds of teacher work stoppages like those that resulted in school cancellations Friday in some southern West Virginia counties.
“We have a job to do here in Jackson County for our children and our citizens,” Superintendent Blaine Hess told WMOV Radio in Ravenswood, a MetroNews affiliate.
“The frustration our employees share are real, and the feeling that state officials aren’t responsive to your needs is difficult,” Hess wrote. “However, the issue of a pay increase, PEIA benefits or GO365 is a state issue that is not under the control of the Jackson County Board of Education.”
He went on in the letter to remind employees that an excess levy, approved by taxpayers in Jackson County, provides salary supplements and other added benefits there.
“While I am sympathetic to the need to address the state level issues impacting our employees, it is my experience and hope that all employees will continue to meet their work obligations to our students,” Hess wrote in the employee letter.
He talked with members of the Jackson County Board of Education about the letter Thursday night and followed up with WMOV.
“Certainly, they can continue to address their concerns in Charleston but we need to stay on the job and keep things moving in Jackson County,” he said.
Under state code, Hess noted, personal leave cannot be used for work stoppages or a strike. Because of that, employees who participate in any work stoppage will not be paid for days missed, Hess reminded employees.
“I share this information with you to relay my expectation that Jackson County Schools will continue to operate normally and provide our children the education and services expected by our citizens,” Hess wrote.
Teachers’ unions in Jackson County, like in other West Virginia counties, held an informational meeting earlier this week.
On Friday, hundreds of teachers from counties that included Logan County and Wyoming County were at the State Capitol as the full state Senate took up Governor Jim Justice’s state worker pay raise bill.