West Virginia public schools to remain closed Friday despite tentative deal
Schools in West Virginia’s 55 counties are set to remain closed on Friday with teachers continuing a strike, pushing it into its seventh day.
ABC News affiliate WCHS reported Thursday that teachers would remain on strike after the state’s Senate declined to take up legislation to raise pay for school and state employees.
Gov. Jim Justice (R) and teachers’ union leaders had reached a deal to raise pay for teachers and other state employees while appointing a task force to deal with issues related to the Public Employees’ Insurance Agency (PEIA).
The bill was instead sent back to the state’s Senate Finance Committee, which was directed to seek other options before taking action. The committee has not yet scheduled a meeting to discuss the bill.
Friday will become the seventh day of school closures in the state after teachers walked out last week to protest spiraling health insurance costs and wage stagnation.
There are less than two weeks left in the West Virginia legislature’s general session. Some state leaders, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D), have called for a special session to address the strike.
“You’re going to the end of the session right now. Right now trying to fix something as momentous and monumental as this is is going to be hard to do in the last two weeks,” Manchin said last week.
The strike was thought to be over earlier this week when Justice proposed a 3 percent raise for all state employees over the next year and a 5 percent raise for teachers and other service personnel in public schools.
Union officials and Justice agreed to a “cooling-off” day Thursday, with teachers originally planning to return to classrooms Friday.
West Virginia teacher salaries were ranked the third-lowest in the nation in 2016.