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Justice addresses teachers, state workers in Berkeley County

SPRING MILLS, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice sat down to talk to a crowd of more than 500 teachers, administrators and other state employees at Spring Mills High School Monday.

It was the second town hall meeting of the day for the governor, who wanted to address concerns regarding pay and benefits.

Teachers and school service personnel began a work stoppage Thursday that has continued into this week, but Justice said it was not a good idea and that lawmakers have already done all they can to help for right now.

Jefferson County School Superintendent Bondy Shay Gibson told WEPM news an average four percent raise over three years and a one year freeze on the Public Employees Insurance Agency would not be enough.

“I think he stated his position clearly and I don’t think he’s changed his position,” she said. “Nothing that he said was cause for optimism today that we’ll be back in school soon.”

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Manny Arvon said none of the tough questions were answered.

“I do see his (Gov. Justice) long-range projections. I was wanting to hear about what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Berkeley County Schools announced that schools would be closed Tuesday within an hour of the meeting.

Jefferson County had made that decision Saturday.

Justice said he wants to call a special session to deal with natural gas that he said will lead to increased revenue and stabilize the state’s economy.

He said once that happens he can offer more of a pay bump and get a long-term fix in place for PEIA.

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