CHARLESTON, W.Va. — State schools Superintendent Steve Paine is apparently trying to walk a middle path in the teacher dispute.

Tuesday, Paine released his first detailed statement since teachers and service workers announced three days ago that they are going on strike Thursday and Friday of this week, likely closing schools in all 55 counties.

“As a lifelong educator, I fully recognize and support the work of our teachers and service personnel,” Paine said. “Only as we are able to provide competitive benefits — inclusive of adequate pay and affordable healthcare–are we able to recruit and retain the best talent.”

However, Paine also cautioned teachers that they may have to make do with less than they want.

“Unfortunately, the economic realities of our state may not allow everything teachers deserve to take place immediately.”

Paine has been meeting with county superintendents to plan for the walkout and an emergency State Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. (Here is a link to the audio stream of the meeting.) Superintendents have been deciding whether to close schools Thursday and Friday, try to have classes or wait to see if some deal is reached.

Paine said he is holding out hope that a strike can be averted.

“I regret that circumstances have led to the announcement of a statewide work stoppage and I am working diligently with all parties to advocate for a prompt resolution,” he said.

Paine pointed out that the strike would be illegal, but he did not suggest that counties would take any action against teachers and service workers who walk off the job.

“Work stoppages by public employees are not lawful in West Virginia and will have a negative impact on student instruction and class time,” he said. “Families will be forced to seek out alternative safe locations for their children, and our many students who depend on schools for daily nutrition will face an additional burden.”

 

Here is the full release from the State Board of Education 

STATE SUPERINTENDENT ISSUES STATEMENT ON WORK STOPPAGE

 

Charleston, W.Va. –West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Steven Paine issued a statement today in response to the planned statewide work stoppage:

“As a lifelong educator, I fully recognize and support the work of our teachers and service personnel. Our educators are committed to their profession and dedicate their passions every day to providing West Virginia students with the education they deserve. Only as we are able to provide competitive benefits – inclusive of adequate pay and affordable healthcare – are we able to recruit and retain the best talent. I fully recognize that our teachers and service personnel deserve more and, I personally know the West Virginia Board of Education, our Governor and our State Legislators agree. Unfortunately, the economic realities of our state may not allow everything teachers deserve to take place immediately.

I regret that circumstances have led to the announcement of a statewide work stoppage and I am working diligently with all parties to advocate for a prompt resolution. I am hopeful that action will be taken to prevent any disruption to students and classrooms. Work stoppages by public employees are not lawful in West Virginia and will have a negative impact on student instruction and classroom time. Families will be forced to seek out alternative safe locations for their children, and our many students who depend on schools for daily nutrition will face an additional burden. I encourage our educators to advocate for the benefits they deserve, but to seek courses of action that have the least possible disruption for our students.”

Superintendent Paine met this week with all county superintendents.

“I, as well as all county superintendents, are hopeful that ongoing negotiations will result in an agreement prior to a work stoppage. Be assured that our county superintendents are working tirelessly to minimize disruption to students and communicate frequently with parents regarding plans in the event of a work stoppage. Each county will make a decision based on the unique needs of its county, keeping the safety and well-being of students as a top priority.

As the situation progresses, I will continue to work with all parties involved to reach the best solution possible for educators, students and our state as a whole.”

 

 

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