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Putnam County schools open but teachers on picket lines with support from others

HURRICANE, W.Va.¬†—¬†Putnam County teachers and school service personnel waved signs Tuesday morning and urged parents not to drop their kids at school on the first day of the education workers strike in West Virginia.

Putnam County was the only county of the state’s 55 counties to have school.

“This is hard. We want to be with kids and we want to be in their working,” Putnam County counselor Jennifer Marinacci told MetroNews on the Hurricane High picket line. “This is a shock that this happened (Monday). I think the House had done so much work on this bill that really, we thought it was going to be okay. We thought the Senate was going to use commonsense and be considerate.”

Instead the Senate added charter schools and education savings accounts back into the bill. The wording is narrowed down from the Senate leadership’s original proposal.

Some parents, not many, did drop their kids off at Hurricane High. A few students drove themselves. There was no indication that any teachers reported to work Tuesday.

School bus driver Bob Bird has been taking kids to and from school for a dozen years. He said he’s frustrated with lawmakers.

“They’re not just fixing what needs to be fixed. They are adding more trouble to it, more problems,” Bird said.

Teachers from several other counties joined Putnam County educators on the picket line. Cabell County teacher Don Scalise said it was a show of support.

“We don’t appreciate what the Putnam County school superintendent has done to his employees–putting them in a really tough spot,” Scalise said.

Teachers are more united than ever, Scalise said.

“I think if anything teachers are as united or more so,” he said. “People don’t want to do this. They feel painted into a corner and when you do that people are going to be upset about this.”

Cabell County teacher and Putnam County parent Rhonda Wood said the Senate needs to get the message that teachers won’t put up with the creation of charter schools and education savings accounts.

“The Senate has a retaliation bill and when we saw that our students were going to suffer at their hands and we said no,” Wood said. “We are willing to stay out as long as it takes to make sure that our students are our future and they are not for profit,” Wood said.

Marinacci said she had her fingers crossed that everything would turn out okay and a compromise could be reached.

“I would love for it not to be a long time. I’m afraid it is going to be a long time. I would hope that our legislators and our state Board of Education and our board of education will work together. If we are all working together then we are going to get improvement for kids,” she said.

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