Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

After an unprecedented nine work-day walk-out by school employees in all of West Virginia’s 55 counties, it was difficult to find a solution for the number one question on everyone’s mind – will the days be made up or not?

Last Friday, all county superintendents of schools met with state superintendent Dr. Steven Paine to discuss the missed days.

Later that day, Pocahontas County Schools superintendent Terrence Beam explained what the initial plan is for the rest of the year.

“We met with the superintendent today, and we came up with some possibilities,” he said. “What I have to do is list all twenty days that we have missed this year. We missed eleven days due to weather and nine days due to the strike. Then I have to label on that spreadsheet what days we’re using to make up what day.”

Beam said he will submit the spreadsheet to the state for approval and go from there. In the meantime, Beam said he has made plans with the school principals, who have met with their employees to discuss the make-up days.

At this time, it has been decided that all of the work stoppage days will be made up by all school employees.

“We’re working on finding a way to get the kids out as soon as we can this summer, while still requiring our employees to work their nine required days from the work stoppage,” Beam said. “I think we’re going to have the employees work spring break. They are going to get the option – let’s say you’re a teacher at Green Bank, and you already booked a cruise. I don’t expect you to cancel that. You would have to work your days in June sometime. I would work with them on that. I’m not going to make them cancel their vacations.”

“Each school has surveyed their employees [about working during spring break versus working at the end of the school year] and some schools are like twenty-one to four that they want to work [spring break] and then I think Green Bank was seventeen to fifteen, so there it’s going to be a little bit different,” he continued. “We want to give them options. We don’t want to force them to make one choice or the other, that just causes descension. We don’t really care when they work their days, as long as they work them.”

Beam said graduation will not change, and the plan is to have students finished with the school year in time for Energy Express to begin.

“I think it’s going to work out if everybody will just be a little patient and give me time to work through this,” Beam said.

On Monday, Beam said Paine had made changes in the plan he presented last Thursday, so there may be changes to the plan on the county level, as well. But one thing is for sure – employees will make up the days.

“We want to make sure that our employees are held to their contract and work their days,” he said. “They cannot use personal days or sick days or anything like that for the strike days. They’re not allowed to say, ‘oh, I’ll just take five days off my sick leave, and I’ll quit early.’ No, that won’t work. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. We would adjust their paycheck on the last paycheck in June. The ones who don’t actually work, they will be docked. We’re going to make sure they work their days.”

As Beam receives updates from Dr. Paine, he will inform The Pocahontas Times.