Hundreds of teachers rally over pay, benefits

Courtesy: WSAZ
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Hundreds of teachers across West Virginia participated in a "walk-in" Friday morning to stand together in solidarity for public education.

Dozens of teachers held signs along Big Tyler Rd. in front of Point Harmony Elementary in Cross Lanes. Teachers were also out at several other schools, including Belle Elementary, DuPont Middle, Riverside High School, Stonewall Middle Ruthlawn Elementary and Sissonville Middle in Kanawha County.

Organizers say the purpose of the event is to build solidarity between parents, education employees, community leaders and students to ensure every child has a high-quality public education. They also want to call awareness of the issues that teachers and service personnel are facing in West Virginia.

A Senate vote is scheduled Friday on a bill to give teachers pay raises of about $400 annually over four years. A press conference scheduled for today by Gov. Jim Justice to address Public Education Issues in West Virginia has been canceled.

According to the National Education Association, West Virginia teachers earn an average salary of $45,622, which ranks 48th in the nation.

At South Charleston High School, about 30 students started their day in the parking lot in front of their school holding signs in support of their teachers. One sign read "FIX PEIA."

In Cabell County, teachers at Milton Middle gathered at Wallace Funeral Home, which is right across the hill from the middle school. They got there early Friday morning, holding signs and standing along the road trying to get people to honk in support of teachers.

They were all wearing purple and then walked into the school around 7:20 a.m. There were teachers, students and parents at this event.

When school began, the teachers who participated in the walk-in across the state walked inside together and started the school day as normal.

Logan County Schools are closed due to "an illegal unauthorized employee walkout."

Mingo County followed suit Thursday evening, as did Wyoming County.

Teachers from Logan County are expected to be at the State Capitol Complex Friday to protest pay and health care.