MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Classrooms were quiet today in Berkeley County as the first statewide teacher and service personnel strike since 1990 began its first day.
Berkeley County Schools confirmed Wednesday that schools would be closed through Friday due to the work stoppage announced last weekend.
Demonstrators lined the streets outside of many schools to voice their displeasure over the pay raise bill signed by Gov. Jim Justice and the lack of funding for the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
Rhonda Foreman is the English Chair at Martinsburg High School. She said she hopes that the strike doesn’t extend past Friday.
“We certainly hope we are back in the classroom on Monday. But I believe that is in the hands of the West Virginia Legislature at this point and time,” she said. “We’ll like to see them make the right call on this.”
Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said earlier this week that classes will resume on Monday. South Middle School Principal Rosa Clark echoed those comments Thursday, saying that Monday will be “business as usual”.
Martinsburg High School Principal Trent Sherman told WEPM radio that resuming classes on Monday is about providing for the students.
“We recognize the fact that we need more competitive pay here in West Virginia for teachers and we need a stable benefits package for them. But I think you have to balance that with student education and everyone understands that,” he said.
Many teachers from South Middle, Martinsburg High, and Berkeley Heights Elementary plan to demonstrate again Friday.