NPR recently reported that West Virginia public school teachers rallied in Charleston to demand increased pay and improved health care options. Even before the latest teach rally was set to begin, schools made the decision to close the evening prior so that students would not be showing up for class without teachers in the classroom. This affected all 55 counties in West Virginia.
Teachers are lobbying for legislation that would increase pay above the meager raise that has been signed by Gov. Jim Justice with Senate Bill 267. Until a solution is reached, teachers have threatened a continued work stoppage, which some lawmakers have said is illegal. There have been some rumblings that the state school board may pursue legal action or ask that an addendum be added to a bill to prevent teacher work stoppages in the future. Other lawmakers have tried to assure the public that there has been sufficient attention drawn to the issue of teacher pay and benefits that there will not need to be further work stoppages to convey teachers’ position on the issue. State lawmakers have deferred to individual counties to decide whether they will pursue legal action against teachers who continue to strike.
The last day that a teacher pay bill can pass in the current legislative session is February 28. Although the current session does not end until March 10, if the bill does not make it out of the current chamber by this Wednesday, it will not have sufficient time for a full vote.