CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Schools across West Virginia will be closed again Monday after the Senate and House of Delegates failed to agree on a proposal regarding pay raises for teachers and other education employees.

Monday will be the eighth straight instructional day that schools have been closed. Many of the messages stating the reasons for closure grew more pointed Sunday afternoon.

Superintendents from a majority of West Virginia counties gathered at the Capitol on Friday. They told most of the Republican caucus from the Senate and then Gov. Jim Justice that they support an average 5 percent raise for educators, believing that is the one key remaining to reopening schools.

Both chambers agreed Saturday to go into a conference committee over the proposals; the Senate agreed on a 4 percent pay raise for all state workers, but the House supported the 5 percent increase backed by Governor Justice.

Many of the superintendents had remained at the Capitol through Saturday to watch what happened. Following a Senate Finance meeting, Superintendent Gary Price of Marion County said he felt certain that sticking with the 4 percent would guarantee school closures on Monday.

Price is also the president of the West Virginia Association of School Administrators, representing superintendents.

“I thought the only way — and it was pretty clear listening to the employee groups — the only way to get the teachers back in the classroom and the students back in the classroom was to pass the 5 percent,” Price said.

“We had the opportunity to meet with the senators on a couple of different occasions and we really made that very clear to them. We understand this is not a problem they created. However, it is a problem that only the Senate was in a position to stop the work stoppage.”

The West Virginia Education Association, American Federation of Teachers and West Virginia School Service Personnel Association said in a joint statement Saturday they were “angry and disappointed” in the Senate’s decision not to agree to the 5 percent raise.

“We too would love to see state employees receive the same percentage increase as our school employees, and we are fully supportive of them also receiving a 5 percent increase,” their statement said.

“However, you do not equalize pay for different groups by simply taking away from one and passing it to another. The purpose of this is clear — to divide us and to pit us against each other.”

The unions said schools will remain closed until the Legislature agrees to the 5 percent deal announced last week.

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

bubble graphic

bubble graphic
Comments