Morgan teachers work thru walkout
Teachers in a dozen West Virginia counties stayed away from work last Wednesday during a one-day teacher strike for bigger pay raises.
Berkeley and Jefferson county teachers participated in the strike. Teachers in Morgan County voted not to join in the walkout and reported to work as usual on Wednesday, March 7.
Teacher absentee rates in
the county that Wednesday were normal, said County School Board President Laura Smith.
The school board was glad that teachers recognized their responsibility to students and remained on the job, Smith said.
The board has always been adamant about teachers needing more pay, Smith said.
Calling from Charlestown, Delegate Daryl Cowles also said he was glad local teachers had not walked out.
Morgan County Schools have increased local salary supplements for teachers twice in the last three years, said School Treasurer Nancy White.
Local salary supplements for Morgan County teachers range from $3,106 to $3,766
a year, depending on years
of experience, said White. The local supplements went up $350 last year for both professional and service personnel.
"We do the best we can," said Smith.
Unhappy with 3.5% raise
Teachers across the state were given a 3.5% raise by
the Legislature, but many
were unhappy that it was not the 6% increase they had asked for.
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The West Virginia Education Association (WVEA) has been campaigning for a 6% salary for each of the next two years to bring state salaries comparable to other states.
"Many of our school systems have vacancies that can't be filled by fully certified people and our college graduates who have chosen education as a career are leaving the state to find higher paying jobs or choosing to find another profession on graduation," said WVEA President Charlie Delauder in a written statement.
The salaries for West Virginia teachers are currently ranked at 47th in the United States, according to the West Virginia Education Association.
Proposed minimum salaries
With a 3.5% raise, West Virginia teacher salaries would start at a minimum of $28,587 for a first year teacher with a bachelor's degree. For a teacher with 35 years of experience and a bachelor's degree, the salary minimum would be $45,295.
State teachers with a master's degree would earn a minimum of $31,399 their first year. A teacher with 35 years experience and a master's degree would make a minimum of $49,870.
West Virginia teachers with a doctorate would receive a minimum of $35,000 their first year and a minimum of $55,232 with 35 years experience.
These figures do not include the local salary supplements that are given by counties.
Teachers who have 15 credits above their bachelor's degree or 15, 30 or 45 additional credits beyond their master's degree also earn additional income for those credits.
The average salary of a contracted classroom teacher in Morgan County during the 2005-2006 school year was $36,035.29, said Treasurer White.
The average was low due to having a high turnover rate and having teachers employed with lesser degrees and no teaching experience coming on board in the school system, she said.
Last year, there were 22 new teachers with no years of experience.
Not losing many
White and Assistant Superintendent David Banks have been working with a recruitment and retention committee asking teachers why they moved here and why they are leaving. A lot are leaving for family reasons, she said.
Many teachers they've hired are from Ohio and Pennsylvania. Some of them come to Morgan County for a few years, then leave when a position opens up that allows them to be near their families, said White.
The county also has many baby boomers approaching retirement age and beginning new careers, White said.
White also hears the other side —why teachers want to stay in Morgan County. They feel it is a safe school district and they're happy with the leadership of the administration and the strides being made in technology and curriculum, said White.
Teachers also appreciate the local salary supplements to their minimum salaries, she said.