Governor announces deal to end West Virginia teachers' 9-day strike

UPDATE 2-West Virginia lawmakers weigh pay deal to end teachers strike

Following the establishment of a conference committee Saturday on House Bill 4145, three representatives from each chamber met twice on Monday afternoon in an attempt to find a resolution on pay raises on for teachers, school service personnel and state police.

Workers inside the capitol were chanting "Today!"

"That's over 62,000 school kids that are being taught by someone that isn't certified to teach", Hofmeister said. (Teachers' extracurricular contracts are separate from the state's classroom contracts.) "We are literally hurting our kids if they can't have practice", said Jones. "It shows them how democracy is supposed to work, that you don't just bow down and lay down for anybody". "If they're not paid what they're worth, they're going to leave".

In the local press and on social media, that state's educators have been sharing struggles mirrored by those of West Virginia's teachers, who began their walkout on February 22, demanding a funding solution for the state's public employees insurance program and a salary increase.

Garcia said she believes if the West Virginia Senate would have passed the 5 percent pay raise bill proposed by Gov. Jim Justice and passed last week by the House, the strike would be over. "I stand with them in their fight for justice and dignity".

Senate leaders, however, announced support for the latest plan Tuesday, promising to find money in the budget to fund all the pay hikes.

Lawrence Messina, a spokesman for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said more than 5,000 people had arrived by noon.

Missed school days will be made up, either at the end of the school year or by shortening spring break, depending on decisions by individual counties.

The conference committee has voted to approve a 5-percent pay raise for all West Virginia state employees. The Senate followed, voting 34-0. The average elementary school teacher makes $41,150, middle school teachers earn $42,380 and high school teachers make $42,460, according to a 2016 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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"While everyone is focused on the mistakes, my focus is exclusively on getting our children back to school", said Gov. Jim Justice.

House members later Saturday wouldn't agree to the Senate's move, and the two bills will now have to be reconciled by a legislative conference committee. On top of that, the education budget has been cut by about 28% over the last 10 years, Hofmeister said.

"If we do it the first week of April, that would be during standardized state testing, which would be a great time to say, 'Hey, we're going on strike, and we're not going to give these tests, '" Chloe Prochaska, a teacher in Mustang, told KTUL on Friday. Blair said that if the governor's estimates of increased revenue estimates from Justice come to fruition, supplemental appropriations could take place.

West Virginia teachers striking for better wages will be marching with a picket sign in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other thanks to a fellow educator's crowdfunding campaign. "We have heard the message of our teachers and state employees loudly and clearly, and we plan to continue delivering results". Their strike, in one of the poorest states in the country, has disrupted the education system's 277,000 students and 35,000 employees, forcing working parents to scramble for child care.

Massive rallies have taken place at the Capitol nearly daily, and it had to close Monday after thousands packed the building. It was reopened an hour later, and teachers vented their frustration over the lack of progress.

Tension between the government and West Virginia teachers can be eased in one of two ways.

Although Swann is concerned about her daughter making up for lost curriculum, she is quick to point out that there are still teachers taking the time to send online assignments and provide food to students who rely on free and reduced breakfast and lunch. Despite the long layoff, Stringer supports the teachers.

"We don't know if school will be in session day-to-day until the evening", she told CNN.

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