As parties point the finger, teachers and school personnel demand unity and solutions

TAYLOR COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) -- With signs in hand, teachers and school personnel lined up the sidewalks on the first day of the walk-out on Feb. 22.

"It's an absolute honor to stand with this people," said Doug Kirkpatrick, a basic computer applications teacher in Taylor County.

However, in Charleston, some lawmakers are pointing the finger and blaming each other for the result of the work stoppage.

"They need to put parties aside," said Kirkpatrick.

Governor Jim Justice released a statement on Tuesday saying:

"I feel that many Democrats that could have helped you dove in the ditch last year and are now grandstanding because of the election year.
I feel the Republicans are trying to be cautious and prudent to assure our state won't fall back and be doomed to be 50th to forever."

Teachers and school personnel say this shouldn't be a partisan battle.

"Our biggest beef with all of this is the freeze on the PEIA," Kirkpatrick told 5 News.

"Regardless of party, these issues are going to weakened public education in our state," said Brian Elliot, english teacher in Harrison County.

"Forty-eight in the state for teacher salary is just not right especially when our delegates are fifth in the country," said Dara Britton, treasurer for Taylor County Schools.

Local lawmakers like Democratic minority leader, Delegate Tim Miley (D-Harrison) told 5 News in a phone interview, he wants solutions and it's been too long.

"The Governor has always over promised and under delivered and you cannot talk about how great things are going in the state and how much you want to give businesses tax breaks unless you're willing to give sufficient raises to public employees," said Miley.

Delegate Guy Ward (R-Marion), says he's stuck in the middle, but parties aside, he agrees that this needs to be fixed.

"Republicans are 'hey! our budget is still kind of fragile' and I understand that and Democrats are saying 'we have to do something you know we might have to fight the bullet so this people need help.'"

In the end, teachers and school personnel just want their message come across in Charleston.

"We are fighting and we are talking for the rest of the public employees as well," said Elliott.