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West Virginia teacher walkouts on for Thursday, expected Friday

Staff, wire reports

The Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With teachers and some other public workers planning a statewide walkout Thursday, Feb. 22, and Friday, Feb. 23, over pay and benefits, many schools around West Virginia have announced plans to close temporarily.

Teachers have held rallies decrying low pay, small proposed increases after several years without them and projected hikes in their insurance costs.

The West Virginia Legislature on Tuesday night approved a 2 percent raise next year for teachers followed by 1 percent raises the following two years. They also approved a 2 percent raise for school service personnel and state troopers next year and a 1 percent bump the year after that. Gov. Jim Justice signed the legislation Wednesday, meaning teachers, school service personnel and state police will receive the pay increase starting in July.

Earlier Tuesday, the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) agreed to freeze premiums and rates for the next fiscal year for teachers and other public workers covered by the plan.

On Wednesday, the House voted on amendments to a bill that would move 20 percent of any general revenue surplus until PEIA is fully funded. An amendment to take 100 percent of surplus for PEIA failed.

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