Schools across West Virginia are closing for what will be Day 8 of the statewide teacher strike. A conference committee of both the state House and Senate has yet to address two different bills aimed at ending the strike. Senators say the pay increase is overdue, but by granting the 4 percent raise they can avoid a tax increase.
Their show of support didn't immediately persuade legislators, who failed to agree on a 5 percent pay raise that would end the strike, forcing districts to cancel school on Tuesday.
Gov. Justice went on to say, "Education should be our centerpiece and I have worked tirelessly to get our teachers the 5 percent pay raise".
Espinosa said he has been speaking with his counterpart in the Senate, Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, "on how we would like to proceed with the committee's work to resolve the differences" between the Senate and the House of Delegates.
Democrats say their Republican counterparts should abide by the deal the governor negotiated with the union for a 5 percent raise. And children who rely on meals at school were at risk of going hungry.
And teachers are showing rising discontent as the strike drags on, amid concerns about their own income. All 55 counties announced school closures for Monday.
Keeping schools shut for 277,000 students and 35,000 employees has been determined on a day-to-day basis. I will not be a party to pitting our state employees against our teachers. School service personnel are also walking out. When I visited with educators two weeks ago at the state capitol, they told me they want to be back in their classrooms. While the state House passed a bill that includes a 5% raise, the Senate passed a bill with only a 4% raise. That version passed the House on a 98-1 vote.
Dale Lee, the president of the West Virginia Education Association, said in a Facebook video to the membership on Saturday night,"We're asking that all public schools in West Virginia be closed again Monday and remain closed until the Senate honors the agreement that was made", according to Reuters.
The group has until Tuesday to come to a decision about the bill.
Lawmakers from the state Senate and House convened Monday afternoon to try to reach an agreement that meets teachers' demands.
"They understand. They get it, and it's so great to see them side by side with their teachers on the capitol steps, doing the chants and fighting for what the teachers deserve", she said.
The fund is not sponsored by any teacher union, but is associated with RiseUp WV, a grassroots citizens organization based in Charleston, West Virginia.
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