NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. — Like his counterparts in 54 other West Virginia Counties, Tim Woodward was thrilled to have students and staff back in his county’s schools on Wednesday.
“I slept well last night, visited school this morning and saw smiling kids, really happy parents, and happy teachers and service personnel,” said Woodward, the Superintendent of Hancock County Schools. “It was great.”
Woodward, like all other school superintendents, refused to open school during the nine day work stoppage. As a result, all of the missed days will be made up. According to him, Superintendents were sympathetic to educators because they are forced to endure many of the same difficulties teachers and service personnel complained about.
“We know the basis of education is great teachers,” Woodward explained on MetroNews Talkline. “We’re finding it harder and harder in West Virginia, not only to recruit but to retain good teachers, especially those of us who lie on border counties.”
Woodward explained he has similar problems to the Superintendents of the eastern panhandle with teachers crossing state lines to earn considerably more money for not much further of a drive every morning.
But, Woodward said it was more than just recruiting and retention. . He too saw signs there were cracks in the long held faith in public education.
“There’s been a feeling among a lot of us in education, both in our state and nationally, for things like vouchers and savings accounts and those kinds of thing,” he said. “We felt like we needed to take a stand for public education as a whole.”
The high profile of the strike forced lawmakers and the Governor into a position of backing public ed and reaffirming it was a priority. Woodward indicated it’s something they didn’t have before and needed as a reassurance education is considered an investment when it comes to making policy in Charleston.