West Virginia teachers to continue strike over pay dispute
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West Virginia teachers have extended their strike for the eighth consecutive school day as they continue to battle with state legislators for wage increases. 

The West Virginia teachers strike, which began on Feb. 22 over low wages and and spiraling health insurance costs, will continue after the state Senate voted to cut a 5 percent pay raise, The Associated Press reported on Sunday.

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The American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia, West Virginia Education Association and the School Service Personnel Association said in a statement on Saturday that the move was necessary after Senate President Mitch Carmichael (R) and his leadership team voted to reduce the raise to 4 percent, according to the AP.

All public schools in the state’s 55 counties will remain closed until the strike is resolved, which is affecting nearly 277,000 students and 35,000 employees, the news wire reported.

The pay for a teacher in West Virginia starts at about $33,000 a year and around 700 classrooms lack fully certified full-time teachers, according to the AP. 

Nearly one-quarter of all children are living in poverty in West Virginia, so teachers packed hundreds of food bags for students in need even as they were on strike. 

The measure has inspired teachers in other states to organize a statewide strike, including 25,000 people in Oklahoma who are discussing plans.