Fayette County teachers, personnel thankful for community support

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Fayette County teachers and school service personnel continued to walkout Monday as part of day three of the statewide walkout.

“Everybody keeps talking about pay raises that’s not our number one thing, it’s PEIA funds,” said kindergarten teacher Diane Binder. “Also, we would like for them (state lawmakers) to quit attacking education. Quit with the education savings accounts with the vouchers for private schools, things like that. Because our public education needs funded.”

Binder stood along Oyler Street in Oak Hill, near the entrance to Oak Hill High School and New River Elementary School. A group of about 50 teachers and school service personnel lined both sides of the road as drivers honked and waved in support.

Elementary teacher Courtney Vargo pointed to a table full of donut boxes and coffee. She explained a woman passing through Fayette County from Virginia stopped and asked why they were standing along the road. Teachers explained the walkout and she drove away.

She returned later to drop off four dozen donuts, 100 donut holes and several boxes of coffee.

“She just said she wanted to do something to support us,” said Vargo. “We had a guy on Thursday that did the same thing, it’s amazing. A lot of people have misconceptions of what we’re doing out here, you know. We’d much rather be in our classrooms, but the support we’ve been getting from our parents and our community has been absolutely amazing.”

On Court Street in Fayetteville, chanting could be heard from several blocks away. “55 strong” and “We will, we will vote you out” were among them. School cook Terri Neff was concerned Monday about the students she serves who rely on school for a daily meal.

“We have families we have to feed and health problems. We work hard for what we do. We provide for these kids, make sure they have a meal and we love them too.”

Several on the lines at both locations mentioned the recent news from Gov. Jim Justice on providing a revenue stream for PEIA through a co-tenancy drilling bill known as joint development. That bill was recently stopped in the state Senate so it could be brought up in the special session.

“West Virginia state employees have been standing with us, teachers together, bus drivers together,” said teacher Mara Petretich in Fayetteville. “All sorts of state employees…we’re united.”

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