Advocating for her fellow educators at the Pocahontas County board of education meeting Monday night, science teacher Kathy White asked the board to give its support in lobbying the state legislature and governor to increase salaries in the state of West Virginia.
White represents the Pocahontas County Education Association, an educators union.
“West Virginia Education Association [WVEA] started a campaign this fall to lobby our legislature and our governor to help bring salaries in West Virginia back up to a competitive level,” White said. “What we found in the last ten years is West Virginia has dropped to forty-eighth in the nation in teacher pay.”
In its research, WVEA discovered that educators living in border counties travel to surrounding states to teach because they earn more.
“People who live in the Eastern Panhandle or even those counties that are close to Maryland, Pennsylvania, typically they can drive across the border into another state and make anywhere from fifteen to almost twenty thousand dollars more a year than what we make here in West Virginia,” White said. “I’ve been an employee in this county for about twenty-two years and during those years we’ve had two pay raises.”
Education Associations throughout the state are approaching county boards to garner support on a resolution which will be presented to the state legislature and governor. White explained that if the legislature approves a salary increase, it will also benefit service personnel in the school system.
“If the West Virginia legislature does approve a raise campaign or salary campaign, it affects most public employees,” she said. “It’s not only teachers they target. There’s a trickle down effect and it usually falls through to most education personnel.”
The raise in salary will not only affect current employees, but future employees, as well. In the study done by WVEA, it was discovered that education graduates choose to leave the state or enter a field related to their degree because of salary.
“We graduated over one thousand, five hundred education majors state-wide last year. We only employed about four hundred thirty-eight of those in the state of West Virginia,” White said. “Others either chose to go into other fields or have left the state. Science related, we graduated about one hundred, eighteen science majors total in the state of West Virginia last year. We only employed twenty-nine in our own state.”
Along with educators being attracted to other states, the other states are attracted to West Virginia educated teachers.
“I’m going to be honest with you, other states love West Virginia teachers because the standards for West Virginia teachers are much higher than some other states require,” White said. “Plus, most West Virginians have been raised with a very strong work ethic and so they love to see our college graduates come to their states because they know they are getting quality products. They know that quality teachers mean quality education for their kids.”
The board agreed to give its support to the cause and asked Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel to include the action to sign the resolution on the next board agenda for approval.
The board thanked White for her information and work that she has done to support the teachers in the county.
• LINKS coordinator Cheryl Jonese updated the board of the advisor/advisee program taking place at Pocahontas County High School.
Jonese said the LINKS program is recommended for grades 5-12, but for this year, she is focusing on the high school. In the program, homeroom teachers will now be referred to as advisors. The advisors will meet with their students to help them be more prepared and help them focus on receiving a well-rounded education.
Jonese said that outcomes from the use of LINKS includes increases in attendance, better behavior and a decrease in dropouts.
All students are required to participate in the program. Jonese said the program will begin January 6 and will happen every Monday.
• Kathryn Williams, public education specialist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, informed the board that the NRAO plans to host a county-wide science fair April 8 for students in grades 3-12.
Williams said she needs the board’s permission because it is on a school day and the students will need to be bussed to the NRAO. She shared a tentative schedule for the fair which includes time for students to take part in activities in the fields of engineering/electronics, computer science and astronomy, with employees at the NRAO.
The board asked Bechtel to put the science fair on the next board agenda for approval, and thanked Williams for the information.
The board unanimously voted down the proposed agreement between Pocahontas County board of education and Barlow, et. al. which involved a request for wage supplements for board office executive secretaries.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Green Bank Elementary-Middle School eighth grade students to travel by charter but to Virginia Beach, Virginia; Williamsburg, Virginia; and Jamestown, Virginia; departing GBEMS on May 20, 2014 and returning to GBEMS on May 23, 2014 with the following staff members as chaperones: Gregory D. Morgan, Lisa A. McCarty, Susan Herold, Morton I. Taber and Ricky I. Sharp, II.
• Revisions of Policy FK – Integrated Pest Control Management Policy.
• Revisions of Policy JB – Pocahontas County Schools Attendance Policy.
• Abolishment of Policy JBH – Exception for Senior Year Attendance.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Employment Phillip C. Anderson as golf coach at Pocahontas County High School effective for the 2013-2014 season at a supplement of $1,200. Position pending on sufficient number of players to make a team.
The next Faculty Senate/LSIC meeting will be Monday, January 6, at 7 p.m. at Pocahontas County High School.
The next board meeting will be Monday, January 13, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at email@example.com