Chris Schulz Published

State Board of Education Reviews Teacher Pay, Middle School In Monthly Meeting

Wooden classroom desks in close up with no students.Adobe Stock

Advocates are calling for a pay raise for the state’s teachers. 

Gov. Jim Justice and legislative leaders have already indicated they will pursue a pay raise for teachers and other state employees during the 2024 legislative session to help cover the increased cost of insurance. But at the state Board of Education meeting Wednesday morning, union representatives said the proposal isn’t enough.

Fred Albert, president of the American Federation of Teachers – West Virginia, stressed that low pay is contributing to the state’s teacher shortage, and requires a more aggressive approach.

“AFT supports increasing teacher and support staff funding and asked the West Virginia Legislature to provide appropriate funding for a three-year salary increase package, a $7,000 raise across the board for teachers, service personnel and public employees, and an automatic cost of living increase,” he said.

Albert stated that many educators are leaving the profession, frustrated by working conditions that don’t contribute to their success, leading to chronic staffing shortages.

Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, compared the legislative response to the school funding situation to similar staffing issues in corrections and medicine.

“When they had a problem with corrections, they gave the corrections officers a $10,000 raise,” he said. “When there’s a shortage of doctors, particularly in rural areas, what do we do? We increase the reimbursement from PEIA from 35 percent of Medicare to 110 percent of Medicare. It’s time to address the issue with educators too.”

Lee highlighted the flipside of the staffing issue, noting that enrollment in educational programs across the state continues to drop. 

David Gladkosky, executive director of West Virginia Professional Educators, also addressed teacher pay in his remarks outlining his organization’s legislative goals. He also touched upon issues of pay for retirees, as well as further legislative corrections to address discipline. 

“What we’re hearing from our teachers out in the counties is that they’re not seeing consistent steps taken to address discipline problems, even though this bill (HB2890) from last year did try to do that,” Gladkosky said. “But we’re still, we’re not seeing enough consistency and enough support in dealing with discipline problems. So I do understand that this is going to be looked at again. And so we support that highly.”

Special Circumstances Review

Later in the meeting, the board approved the Special Circumstance Review of Philippi Middle School in Barbour County and recommended corrective actions. The review was initiated in November 2023 by the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) as a result of student safety concerns and a lack of adequate progress in the school improvement process.  

The county superintendent and school principal have been in their current positions since July 2023, and most of the issues precede them. Barbour County Schools Superintendent Eddie Vincent told the board he came into the position knowing there was work to do.

“We’ve asked for help, I actually asked for the special circumstance review to assist us along the way and knowing that this is a process that we owe Barbour County and to our kids,” he said. 

Board President Paul Hadesty thanked and complimented Vincent for reaching out.

“It is not our primary objective to be punitive in nature,” he said. “We’re here as a support mechanism, but we can’t support people and help them unless we know there’s a problem.”

The review resulted in 22 areas of non-compliance and five findings. These range from student achievement, well-being and safety to discipline and administrative protocols. The recommendations outlined include the immediate hiring of a certified school counselor; the implementation of a disciplinary matrix and improvements to the school’s Special Education practices.