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Teacher Pay Raise a Big Issue in West Virginia Legislature

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) - As children played outside on the school playground, many teachers inside were probably wondering if this is the year they'll get a long awaited pay increase. Because of low pay, West Virginia currently has 725 unfilled openings for school teachers. 

"We aren't bringing in new teachers. We have people graduating from  higher ed institutions, with an education degree but they are not staying here. So we have to address these shortages, and it has to be how are we supporting new teachers," said Christine Campbell, President, WV American Fed. of Teachers .

Recently we found that West Virginia has the lowest pay for Corrections Officers in the six-state region, so we wanted to know how starting teacher's fared as well. Sure enough, when the National Education Association studied how teacher pay compared to five boarding states, West Virginia was dead last. Delegate Robert Thompson is a school teacher by trade.

"They're being slapped in the face. And it's not just teachers; it's service personnel. It's everybody who works in the schools, are being slapped in the face," said Del. Robert Thompson, (D) Wayne. 

Aside from stagnant salaries, teachers and most state employees are having to pay higher rates for their PEIA health insurance coverage.

"We are also seeing a decrease in benefits through insurance and other things as well," said Del. Thompson.

"How are we compensating everyone who is in the system, and what are we doing to ensure they have the benefits in addition to the living wage?" said Christine Campbell, of the AFT-WV.

Last year Governor Justice request a two-percent pay raise for teachers, but that was rejected.

"And it's not just teachers. There's an effort here to get 2-percent pay raises for all state employees at a cost of 45-million dollars per year. That's leaving many to wonder, where will the money come from?" said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.


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