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Wetzel Schools Close Feb. 15 Due To Work Stoppage

By Staff | Feb 15, 2018

Wetzel County teachers and other personnel have protested at high schools throughout the county, expressing concerns about competitive wages and PEIA funding. Pictured is an informational picket held recently across from Hundred High School. (Photos provided)

Wetzel County Schools will be closed Feb. 16 due to an impending work stoppage.

Superintendent Ed Toman confirmed the details, stating he had been notified by Sandi Hurst, who represents Wetzel County’s West Virginia School Service Personnel Association. Hurst had informed Toman that the association was walking out on Friday, Feb. 16.

Toman said there would not be enough drivers, cooks, aids, and secretaries available at the schools Feb. 16; therefore, the school system decided to close for that day.

This action comes after West Virginia House of Delegates, on Tuesday, cautiously approved raises for state police, teachers and school personnel. However many lawmakers said the raises weren’t enough.

Under the measure, public school teachers would receive an across-the-board wage increase of $808 for fiscal year 2019 — calculated to be equal to 2 percent of the average teacher’s pay of $40,400. They would receive $404 — or an amount equal to a 1 percent — each of the following three years, totaling $2,020 over the four-year period.

State employees are also concerned about being able to afford their health insurance benefits however. The governor did place a freeze on Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA) rates, for 17 months; however, state employees are still concerned about the future of those benefits.

Throughout all this, Wetzel County Schools employees have been holding informational pickets prior to the school day.

Elliot Kendle, of the Wetzel County Education Association, has noted that the informational pickets and walk-ins that are taking place throughout Wetzel County are demonstrations “of our solidarity with and support of teachers, education service personnel, and other public employees throughout West Virginia. These protests are a response to the actions of the Governor and the Legislature. We are united in our struggle to fix PEIA, obtain a competitive salary, and stop the attacks on employee rights.”