In their Feb. 13 meeting, the Grant County Board of Education voted to sign a resolution in support of a fair teacher compensation in the ongoing issues with the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA).
“The West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency is implementing a premium increase of one-half percent and other changes in benefits that will increase health insurance costs for all covered employees,” the resolution said. “Although the governor has placed a one year freeze on the premium increase, a long-term PEIA solution needs to occur to protect employees.”
The resolution also states that West Virginia teachers are the third lowest paid in the nation, only higher than Mississippi and Oklahoma.
This places the state lower than all of the surrounding states, which can often make teachers choose to work out-of-state.
“The current state of teacher compensation in West Virginia undervalues teachers, causing many to leave Grant County Schools to pursue teaching opportunities in another state educating the children of Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania,” the resolution explains.
“The current state of teacher compensation in West Virginia has made it extremely difficult for school boards to recruit and retain highly effective teachers and to offer employment packages that are competitive with these neighboring states.”
The resolution also acknowledged the recently proposed Senate Bill 453, which would amend PEIA premium sharing percentages between the employer and employees to a level of 85 percent for the employers and 15 percent for the employee. This would be an overall reduction of employee premium contributions by 5 percent.
“Now therefore be it resolved that the Grant County Board of Educations respectfully requests that the West Virginia Legislature improve teacher compensation to make West Virginia a more attractive state for the nation’s best teachers to live and work by providing sufficient salary increases during the 2018 regular session to raise teacher pay so that West Virginia no longer ranks 48th in the nation, to approve Senate Bill 453 and to take all other action necessary to remedy the longstanding, statewide problem of stagnant teacher pay, recruitment and retention,” the resolution said.
Also during the meeting, the board spoke with Larry Porter of Maysville about his concern over the containers being brought into schools by students, from home.
On Feb. 10, Deputy R.S. Rohrbaugh performed a traffic stop on a green Chevy Silverado that was traveling at a high rate of speed on Route 48.
The operator of the vehicle was identified as Roy Daniel Willis III of Bayard. During the stop, Rohrbaugh determined that Willis was operating the vehicle with a revoked license due to a previous driving under the influence conviction. It was also discovered that Willis was in possession of marijuana.
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New scholarship for PHS students available
More than 35 scholarships from the Tucker Community Foundation are available for high school and college students in Barbour, Grant, Mineral, Preston, Pocahontas, Randolph and Tucker counties and Garrett County, Md. Scholarship awards will range from $500 to $10,000 with most in the $1,000 range.
Students can go to www.tuckerfoundation.net/endowed-funds/scholarships/ to download an application. The deadline to apply is Friday, April 6.
Applications are also available at the Foundation offices located in the Board of Education Annex at 100 Education Lane, Parsons; and 737 William Ave, Suite 1, in Davis. High school guidance counselors in the Foundation’s service area also have applications for distribution.
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During a meeting held on Feb. 5, the Petersburg City Council approved a building permit for U.S. Cellular to build a new tower in the Petersburg City Park.
The tower’s building will take place later this year but, according to the council, will not interfere with the Spring Mountain Festival which is scheduled for the last full weekend in April.
Other building permits approved were for Rick Hedrick of 24 Central Ave., to expand an existing building, Jimmy Hedrick of 64 Aspen Dr., to replace a porch and Jonathan Kuhn of 834 North Fork Hwy., to replace current windows and a deck.
After students headed home on Friday, local teachers, personnel and other public employees worked to raise awareness on the controversial changes legislators could be making to the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
These changes would base public employee premiums on total family income, which would potentially mean large premium increases for many insurees that rely on the PEIA for family or employee-
“This affects all of us,” said Cindy Smith, a local school employee. “We are not the only county doing this, this is something that is going to hurt a lot of people.”
Most recently, Governor Jim Justice has moved forward plans to freeze the premium increase for a year with a goal of including pay raises for employees when the plan goes into effect.Many of the employees who were present on Friday said they would also be attending a rally in Charleston later this month to make further make their voices heard on the topic.
“Anyone who supports not only teachers but any other public employee should contact local legislators or come to a PTO meeting,” said Olivia Gaither, a teacher at Petersburg
For more information on the PEIA issue, see page 4A of this week's Press.