CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Schools are a signature away from reopening Wednesday, after nine consecutive days of a statewide work stoppage of teachers and service personnel.
A deal was announced Tuesday morning that all state employees will receive a 5 percent pay increase.
“I’ve already alerted all of the necessary people to effectuate that,” Harrison County Superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin said. “I’m just waiting to see that the governor signs it, and we’ll start discussing that very quickly. I’m sure I speaking for the rest of the superintendents, we’re going to make every effort to have school tomorrow if the governor signs the bill.”
Upon hearing the announcement, Manchin said that the state employees of West Virginia have won the day.
“The only one who gets credit, there’s only one group, and that’s the employees,” he said. “If they weren’t solid, if there was not solidarity, then this day would not have come.”
That solidarity is what Manchin feels made this work stoppage different from the strike in 1990, which he witnessed from the other side of the picket line as a State Senator of Kanawha County.
“It was so fractured in 1990. This was amazing,” he said. “What I saw over these last several days was amazing. Other than a handful of senators, it was almost unanimous in solidarity.”
Manchin said in 1990, some county school systems remained open while others closed, many service personnel did not stand in unity with teachers, and employees were forced to choose between being paid and standing up for themselves.
“I’m so proud (of educators) around the state of West Virginia, as I saw them come together at the State Capitol and each individual picket line throughout the state, and it’s because of their perseverance, their dedication and their hard work that this day has come,” he said.
Now that the work stoppage is seemingly ending, Manchin hopes that unity will remain throughout the state’s schools.
“I think we go back unified and stronger than we ever were before,” he said. “You do so many great things. You deserve it, so stay strong.”