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Ohio County Board of Education Members in Support Of Walkout — For Now

Photo by Scott McCloskey Woodsdale Elementary School teachers stand in front of the school along W.Va. 88 on Thursday as part of the teachers’ statewide two-day walkout.

WHEELING — Ohio County Board of Education members Sarah Koegler and Christine Carder are both educators who said they support the two-day walkout by West Virginia’s teachers for Thursday and today.

But neither is certain if they will be on board with teachers if additional walkouts are called for next week.

The teachers are seeking higher wages and lower insurance premiums through the Public Employee Insurance Agency.

Koegler is employed as a managing director and human resources business partner at Teach For America.

“I believe the teachers in our state are underpaid with regard to the importance they bring to our communities and our state,” she said. “I also believe anyone who goes into public service should have reliable health programs. The unreliability of PEIA is unfair to teachers.”

Koegler said she supports the actions of the teachers to call a walkout for Thursday and today.

“It seems the only thing to do to get the attention of lawmakers,” Koegler said. “But it is unclear yet whether I would support a continued action.

“Our local representatives haven’t said what it is they are looking for, or what they are holding out for,” she added.

Those speaking at a special Ohio County Board of Education meeting this week said the pay raise recently approved for teachers — 2 percent in 2019, and 1 percent in 2020 and 2021 — was inadequate. They also called the attempt by state leaders to freeze PEIA premiums for the next 18 months “not a permanent fix.”

The representatives also expressed concerns about proposals at the Legislature pertaining to school vouchers, charter schools and the elimination of teacher seniority. These bills do not appear to be moving in the Legislature.

“When they talk about salary and benefits, I think they have cause for action,” Koegler said. “I’m not sure about their other concerns.”

Carder spent 38 years as an educator with Ohio County Schools, serving as a teacher, principal and vocational director before retiring as principal at Wheeling Park High School.

She is supporting the two-day walkout, but she wasn’t certain what would happen beyond that.

“We’ll see how it goes. We’re taking this one day at a time,” Carder said.

She indicated it would be very important for teachers and service personnel to call off and let administrators know they won’t be at school on any given day.

“If we have enough people to man the schools, we will keep open.” Carder said. “If we do not, we will have to close them.”

Board President Zach Abraham, along with members Shane Mallett and Tim Birch, did not immediately return calls seeking comment Thursday.

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