Teachers rally for pay raise in Charleston

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WDTV) -- Teachers from across the state descended upon Charleston, Monday, with one message for lawmakers - we need more than a one percent raise.

Courtesy: WSAZ

About 150 teachers rallied together. One teacher from our area said they did have some lawmakers join them to show support. The main message was that teachers in the state need more than a one percent raise. While they appreciate the one percent, they say it's not enough to keep up with inflation rate, healthcare or costs offered in neighboring states.

One teacher we talked to said that's why many qualified teachers, leave.

"We have over 700 vacancies in West Virginia. Those are not being filled by certified teachers and the reason why is because those teachers are basically leaving to get better paying jobs right next door," said Sam Brunett, an art teacher at Morgantown High School and president of the American Federation of Teachers - Monongalia County.

Many lawmakers agree that teachers deserve a larger raise. The question, though, is whether there is enough funding for it.

"Right now, we don't have it but it's looking like in the near future, in the next couple of years and beyond that revenue projections are showing that they're going to come in more, and in that case, I think we need to give raises over the next few years, until everybody is up to where they should be," said Delegate Guy Ward, (R- Marion, 50).

"What I would like to see is to have some kind of pay scale where teachers get at least a cost of living increase every year, that way they don't lose ground and at the same time, we should be looking at ways to increase our teacher pay to make it the profession that it should be to kids that are coming up in college years to make it something they want to do," said Senator Mike Romano, (D- Harrison, 12). "The way they're getting paid now, it's hard to convince anybody except the most dedicated to become a teacher."

Harrison County schools superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin says he supports teachers in their efforts and understands the budget restraints of lawmakers; however, he thinks if lawmakers prioritize employees and educators, they could find a way to include the increase he believes teachers deserve.