By Austin Bailey, Ethan Aguilar, & Kyle Groves:
On Tuesday, February 19th, 2019, teachers and service personnel went on a state-wide work stoppage because of the Omnibus Bill. Nicholas County Schools were closed due to inclement weather, but parents and students speculate it was for the strike. The work stoppage did help regardless; it put an end to the Omnibus Bill which got broken down into smaller bills. There have been two work stoppages since last year to this year. Mr. Akers, a teacher at NCHS, commented that “Work stoppages won’t be more popular; teachers don’t like being out of school. We would rather be here.”
Senior JJ Lipscomb became semi-famous when a video of him talking about the strike was posted on CNN’s Snapchat story. “I was surprised I was on CNN’s Snapchat,” JJ said. The clip featured JJ super excited and cheering about not having school the next day.
Nicholas County teachers and service personnel attended a meeting Feb. 5 at SMS about a potential work stoppage. The reason teachers and service personnel are considering a work stoppage is because of the Omnibus Bill presented by the Senate. If the bill passes in its original state, it could increase class sizes in elementary schools from 28 students to 31 students per class. Also, charter schools could be legalized in West Virginia. In addition, counselors may not be required to spend at least three-quarters of their work time with students as they are now required to do. The bill could remove a statewide pay equalizing provision. Parents would be able to use “education savings account,” which would give them money to private-school or home-school their children. Regular levy property tax rates could raise. Pay could be withheld during a work stoppage, even if a county superintendent officially closes school. School employees could have to re-agree to have part of their paychecks withheld to pay union dues.
Teachers and service personnel are hoping the bill dies or gets broken down, which it is already beginning to do in the House. Most employees see a work stoppage as a last resort, but if it comes down to it, the whole state is predicted to unite. When asked about the potential work stoppage, Counselor Mrs. Knight replied, “I’m going to agree with teachers because they’re the experts.” Also according to Mr. Akers, it will be more important than the last work stoppage that happened in the 2017-2018 school year because there is much more at stake. Teachers and service personnel will find out more by the end of February. Parents and students can support the teachers and service personnel by calling or emailing their representative. Contact info is provided at http://www.wvlegislature.gov/Senate1/roster.cfm and http://wv.legislature.gov/House/roster.cfm