CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — To get ready for school, teachers need supplies like pencils, notebooks, scissors, paper and more. But some West Virginia teachers say they need more than typical school supplies. They say they need better pay.

The West Virginia Education Association, one of the two teachers’ unions in the Mountain State, said there are 1,700 teacher vacancies at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year, which some attribute to inadequate pay.

According to the National Education Association, Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia are the highest-paid teachers in our region, followed by Ohio, Virginia and Kentucky. But West Virginia is last in the nation.

Union leaders said their profession needs more support.

"You have to make the salaries attractive. We dropped to 50th in the nation last year on the salary scale. And you can go anywhere across the border and make anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000 more, simply by driving 30 minutes," said Dale Lee, West Virginia Education Association.

As we've been reporting a lot recently, West Virginia needs thousands of new workers in many professions, including education. For more information on local jobs, click here.