ELK GARDEN - ElK Garden School teachers, service personnel, and supporters gathered on the main street of the community on the second day of the statewide walkout by educators to show their unity concerning health care costs and pay raises.

By Jean Braithwaite
Tribune Correspondent
ELK GARDEN - ElK Garden School teachers, service personnel, and supporters gathered on the main street of the community on the second day of the statewide walkout by educators to show their unity concerning health care costs and pay raises.
Teacher Valerie Durr feels the raise promised by Gov. Jim Justice to be spread over the next several years is not enough, and she said, “We need the raise all at once.”
Of even more concern for Durr is the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA) taking in the salary of her spouse to determine the cost of her monthly premium.
She gave a rundown of her post-secondary education to include a master’s degree and she is presently pursuing a national certification, which will allow her to teach anywhere in the United States in certain subjects.
But with all the schooling, Durr’s salary continues to be less that her husband’s paycheck, and she said that the small percentage of a raise for her will not even cover what the two-income household PEIA premiums will be in the future.
The PEIA finance board recently did agree to scale back for the rest of this year on a new plan that would consist of a raise in health care fees for state employees.
Several signs carried by Elk Garden personnel said what they felt about PEIA, with one saying, “You know things are bad when cooks start marching, so fix PEIA,” and the other said, “PEIA is like perfume on a skunk, it still stinks.”
Both of those carrying these signs said they were there to “support all of West Virginia.”
Mandi Moreland, the parent/teacher coordinator for Elk Garden School, carried a sign that said, “If you can read this, honk your horn for WV teachers.”
She said her message to the state officials involves, “If you invest in teachers, you invest in the students; and by this, you invest in West Virginia.”
Even with school called off for the two days, Elk Garden School employees continued to place their thoughts with the wellbeing of the students.
One of those carrying a sign to encourage changes on the state level with pay raises and health care costs said on this past Wednesday, the bus drivers delivered the Food for Thought packages to the school and distribution to the students took place.
She said, “We wanted to make sure the food went out for the students to have over the days the school was closed.”
As far as the length of the work stoppage for school personal, the employees have until 5 p.m. on this coming Sunday to report their decision to county superintendent Shawn Dilly on whether they will in school on Monday morning.