(WOWK) — Hours after the WV Teachers Unions announced a statewide strike, the Omnibus Education Bill passed through the Senate, 18-16.
Last week, the House of Delegates made major changes to the bill but on Monday an amendment by the Senate washed away many of those changes.
The new version of the bill reintroduced ESAs, with 1,000 for special needs and bullied students. It also took the number of charter schools from two to seven, with a limit of two introduced per year.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael reacted to the strike on Twitter Monday night,” After years of ruining our state’s public education system, the teacher union bosses have finally lost their grip on the Legislature and seemingly have lost their grip on reality.
Comprehensive education reform that will improve student performance, provide parental choice and empower teachers is coming – because parents, taxpayers, and job providers want our broken public education system fixed now. I am confident the House of Delegates will do the right thing and pass this compromise bill.
Locking our students out of schools because the teachers union bosses have lost is an embarrassment for our state.”
Education union leaders have announced a statewide teacher strike effective tomorrow in West Virginia.
Leaders of the of WVEA, AFT-WV, and WVSSPA announced the decision at a press conference at 6 p.m.
They say they had no other choice but to call the strike in response to the education reform bill working its way through the West Virginia statehouse.
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee says that watching the actions of the state Senate, “it appears that they are more interested in listening to the outside interests than they are the educators across West Virginia.”
Teachers won a 5 percent pay raise after a strike last year.
When asked about the length of the strike leaders say they will be considering things day by day.
A number of school districts have announced they will be closed tomorrow. Click here to see those closings.
Dr. Steven Paine, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools, issued the following statement following the announcement:
“I regret that circumstances have led to the announcement of work stoppages in many counties throughout the state. I am working diligently with all parties to advocate for a prompt resolution. Though this is an uncertain and emotional time, we cannot forget that the best interest of students must be our top priority.
While SB 451 has followed an unusual path, the legislative process is not complete, and I am hopeful that we can collectively work toward a solution that best benefits our students and respects our teachers, service personnel, parents and citizens of West Virginia.
Be assured that our county superintendents are working tirelessly to minimize disruption to students and communicate frequently with parents regarding plans impacting school schedules. Each county will make a decision based on the unique needs of its county, keeping the safety and well-being of students as the sole focus.”
This is a developing story and we will continue to bring you updates as they come into the newsroom.