Education Unions Plan Another Picket as Reform Bill Moves through Senate

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The West Virginia Senate Education Committee passed its version of the Governor's education reform bill Tuesday afternoon.

Union leaders, who have serious concerns about some of the reforms though, say they are not discouraged yet.

On Wednesday morning, they will host an informational picket outside the doors of the West Virginia School Board meeting. The board is set to meet at 8:30 a.m.

The picket did little to change committee members minds on Tuesday. Union leadership, teachers and school service personnel stood with signs and handed out flyers telling lawmakers they "could use their support."

Judy Hale, president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers, says the groups have three major concerns.

First, that hiring standards would be lowered. Secondly, hiring criteria would be too subjective. Last of all, going from a 43-week calendar to 365 days would mean no second job in the summer.

"There is no way our people can make it without having a second job," explained Jackee Lee, president of the West Virginia School Service Personel Union. Lee explained the average salary for one of her members is about $25,000 a year.

The Governor's reforms come after a school audit showed inefficiencies in the way West Virgina's schools are being run.

On Tuesday, committee members changed the bill by putting in days for faculty senate meetings, and no longer counting athletic tournaments toward instructional days. It also would forbid principals from recommending relatives in the hiring process.

The bill now goes to the Senate Education Committee.

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