277000 remain out of school during West Virginia teacher strike
06 March, 2018, 03:23 | Author: Larry Hoffman
The Republican-controlled state Senate voted Saturday to reject a 5 percent raise for the workers after billionaire Governor Jim Justice said he would get the chamber to approve the increase and set up a bipartisan group to tackle the underfunded health insurance plan - Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA).
House of Delegates spokesman Jared Hunt said Sunday no committee meeting has been scheduled. One administrator noted the impasse is affecting 277,000 students and 35,000 employees.
"To accomplish that, we have instructed our respective Finance Committee staffs to pull data and put together the necessary fiscal information, and have separately reached out to the Governor's Office staff to ask for more budgetary information from the executive branch", he added. West Virginia has struggled to attract or hold onto teachers in recent years, as better paid teaching positions beckon in bordering states such as Maryland, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, Increased vacancies have lead to legislation proposing a lowering of qualifications for educators, and now many full time teachers in West Virginia are technically uncertified for their positions.
A legislative conference committee appointed to resolve differences between the Senate and House proposals is scheduled to meet later Monday.
Later that evening, the Senate mistakenly passed the House version of the bill with the 5 percent raise, as opposed to the 4 percent version sent to the Senate from committee. She said her biggest challenge has been making sure her children don't forget what they've learned this school year.
An online fundraiser for West Virginia teachers on strike had raised more than $225,000 from almost 5,000 donors as of Monday afternoon. Union leadership supported the deal, however, many teachers felt the deal didn't go almost far enough, nor was its passage through the senate guaranteed.
Thousands of teachers, school service personnel and their supporters have swarmed the Capitol since the walkout over pay and rising benefit costs. The teachers-who earn an average of $45,000 annually and are some of the lowest-paid educators in the US -have demanded a 5 percent pay increase. Smith said he started the fundraiser "to help support teachers and school service personnel who are taking on great personal cost to organize and support their families during the strike, and beyond".
The statement said all public schools in West Virginia would be closed again Monday "and remain closed until the Senate honors the agreement that was made".
However, Espinosa said that committee members would need to investigate into whether the state has enough money to meet teacher pay demands.
"They are being punished for it, too", Carty said.
The Republican-controlled House of Delegates earlier passed a 5 percent raise, an agreement that Republican Gov. Jim Justice had worked out with unions. In Oklahoma, public school teachers are considering a strike over their salaries. He now also works in a federally funded outreach program to help prepare students for college.
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