KEYSER - Curtis Westfall carried a sign saying “1% is good for milk but not for a raise” during the walk-in held early Friday morning by Keyser Middle School teachers and supporting friends.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - Curtis Westfall carried a sign saying “1% is good for milk but not for a raise” during the walk-in held early Friday morning by Keyser Middle School teachers and supporting friends.
Westfall said that he is a future educator, and is at the present attending Potomac State College. He has a concern about raises for county teachers.
Standing near Westfall was a county educator, who did not want to be named, who said the one or two percent possible raise in their pay would not even pay their home electric bill.
Westfall also has another concern for those teachers he stood among on Southern Drive on Friday morning in 20-degree weather, dealing with the upcoming changes in the Public Employees Insurance Agency.
Westfall said he is hopeful that when he is finished his education and takes his place as a teacher, “I will have insurance that I can afford when I start my career.”
Gov. Jim Justice announced late this week he has proposed to the PEIA finance board that the same insurance premium remain unchanged for the next fiscal year, which he indicated would cost the state an additional $22 million in funding.
Teacher Stacey McClintock feels that announcement is “procrastination,” and her opinion - and the same among many others participating in the walk-in - is to have the PEIA “fully funded.”
Julie Braithwaite echoed what McClintock said and she feels government finances could be found to fund PEIA.
One sign displayed say the PEIA stood for “Pushing Educators into Another State,” and a nearby participant said that with higher insurance costs, those highly qualified teachers will skip sending their resumes to West Virginia.
Dan Dawson, veteran teacher for over 40 years, would like to see the PEIA “stay like it is,” but he said instead, “The premiums are going up and up and so are the deductibles.”
He added that a possible future change in the PEIA is the premium could be based on the income of the educator and that of their spouse, and that is “not fair.”
“I concur with everything Dan said, “John Haines Jr. said, citing that Dawson “has been my mentor” for many years.
Willian Wright, a first-year educator, was in the walk-in line, and he spoke about the dedication displayed among his fellow teachers, “The dedication you see out here this morning is the same that is inside the classroom.”
Jericka Murphy travels from Pennsylvania to teach Keyser Primary students and does so, because, “I wanted to teach here.”
Being single, she said that right now the PEIA changes would not affect her, but she added that those teachers with families will be greatly affected.
Those passing through Southern Drive in their vehicles Friday morning honked their horns to show support to the educators, and one person told them to “stay united and stay strong.”