Tuesday afternoon Fairmont senior teachers listened to the radio outside the school, which stood empty for the ninth consecutive school day, as state senators unanimously passed the measure teachers around the state fought hard to get.
“I am so proud to be a teacher right now in West Virginia, we have started a revolution and I think that we should be so proud that we had a goal, we stuck to that goal and we accomplished that goal together,” said Hannah Morris, Fairmont Senior math teacher.
After weeks of pickets and rallies outside Mountain State Schools, teachers along with other state employees will receive a five percent pay raise.
“We are making an investment to make education and to put education in my opinion over and over where it ought to be and that is first,” said Governor Jim Justice.
During his press conference Governor Justice said a PEIA task force would be formed this week in order to address one of the main issues that caused the work stoppage, rising insurance fees.
Of course the raise and the task force will benefit more than just teachers.
“The other state employees don’t have due process rights so they couldn’t do this for themselves. So bonus, big bonus,” said Kathy Jacquez, Fairmont Senior teacher.
And with that bonus, the pay raise and the PEIA task force, teachers said they’re ready to get back to work.
“I never thought I’d say it but I do miss those kids and I’m pretty excited to go back to school,” Morris said.
And although it’s been a while since students and teachers have been in school, some say these days without classroom instruction haven’t been completely void of teachable moments for students.
“We wanted a living wage, we wanted the PEIA fix for a long time but finally everybody said, ‘enough is enough.’ And I think the students are going to learn from what we’ve done more than they could from reading about it in a book. This is labor history being made,” Jacquez said.
Individual counties will determine when their students will return to the classroom. Governor Justice called on the state superintendent of schools to work with county superintendents to avoid adding make-up days to the school year.