Boone County schoolteachers voted, along with educators in 14 other counties, to walk off the job last Wednesday to protest the legislature’s 3.5 percent pay hike. The West Virginia Education Association estimated that just over 5,000 professional educators failed to report for work. This also kept service workers from being able to work on March 14, since these workers declined for the most part to cross picket lines.
However, if the teachers thought the walkout might cause the Governor of West Virginia to rethink higher salaries, they were mistaken, according to one official. Lara Ramsberg, Press Secretary to Gov. Joe Manchin, said the governor had no plans to propose increases at this time.
“Governor Manchin has been consistent in telling leadership of both state teachers organizations that he will not be calling a special session on teacher’s compensation this year,” Ramsberg said. “So, if that was the thought process behind Wednesday’s walkout, it is unfortunate.”
Boone County Superintendent of Schools, Steve Pauley said yesterday that he knew late Tuesday night that holding school the next day would have been impossible. “The information we received was that there weren’t going to be enough faculty members reporting to school on Wednesday to hold school.” Pauley told CVN. “Also, we felt that there would probably be picket lines in front of the schools, so I decided just to cancel classes.”
Pauley said there was an extra snow day on the calendar, so he decided to use that to make up for a missed instructional day. “Some other counties didn’t have those days, but we were fortunate to have one.” He said students will make up the day on June 7.
Pauley said he didn’t have exact figures, but believed there were 450 professional educators on staff with the county, along with 245 service workers, including cooks, bus drivers, custodians and maintenence staff. He also said there were 4,600 students enrolled in county schools.