WINFIELD, W.Va. — More than 150 teachers, school service personnel and members of the public packed the Putnam County Board of Education chambers at the school district’s main office to support the board’s vote on a resolution standing behind education employees regarding improving insurance and pay.

The five-member board unanimously approved a resolution requesting the West Virginia Legislature work to increase salaries and improve insurance benefits. The board’s decision was met with a standing ovation.

“I think knowing that the board supports us will allow people to be a little more at ease and know that they can count on our Putnam County School Board and our superintendent to stand behind us when we need them to,” said Angie Turkelson, president of the Putnam County branch of the American Federation of Teachers and teacher at Hurricane High School

Turkelson introduced the resolution Tuesday night. She said while the board committed support verbally at a Feb. 5 meeting, it was better to have the backing in writing.

“People were still really uneasy because of everything that is going on,” she said. “We got together, wrote a resolution and just asked if they would sign.”

The House of Delegates voted Tuesday to increase teacher salaries by 2 percent next year, and by 1 percent each year for the next three years. The salaries for service personnel would increase by 2 percent next year and 1 percent the following year. The Senate previously voted to provide a yearly 1 percent raise for five years.

The PEIA Finance Board will vote Feb. 20 on a proposal to freeze insurance prices for an additional year.

Teachers in Cabell, Lincoln and Wayne counties voted Tuesday evening to hold a one-day work stoppage this Friday. Education employees are holding a rally Saturday at the state Capitol to protest rising insurance costs and advocate for an increased pay raise.

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