Teachers react to proposed pay raise, prayer vigil held in support of teachers

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Dozens attended a prayer vigil on Wednesday evening in St. Marys in support of West Virginia's teachers and public employees.

"It was a good positive night, hopefully in the right spiritual direction," said Drew Crawford, a teacher at St. Marys High School.

Crawford helped organize the event, which featured prayer and singing.

"Our intent was not to make any statement, our intent was not to make any political statement, our intent wasn't even to get support from our teachers or from our community, our intent was to get support and to get help from God," he said.

Earlier in the day, teachers and education officials gathered at City Park in Parkersburg for an informational meeting about what could be in their future.

"I think it's misleading to say that it's 5%, it's really about $2,020 for teachers so I think that's a really good start," said Amy Ramsburg, an 8th grade English teacher at Hamilton Middle School.

"We're still concerned about the funding sources for PEIA, we're pleased to know that a task force has been formed to address the issue," said Gregory Merritt, the president of AFT Wood County.

Lisa Brown is a special education teacher at Franklin Elementary School. She's in her 10th year at the school. She wants proof that the proposed legislation will become a reality.

"We just want assurance something in writing signed by the Senate and the House and the governor saying this is a done deal, a for sure deal so that we can really get back in the classroom," she said.

Merritt says many of the teachers at the meeting don't have a sense of trust in legislators. The legislature has a little more than a week to pass a bill before the legislative session is up.

Teachers at the meeting said the four-day walkout was ultimately for their students.

"They're the future of our country and I want the very best education for them and if they continue to keep cutting things it will just keep cutting them," Ramsburg said.

"Some of my students are pretty young but hopefully some day they can understand why we did what we did and how important it is to really stand up for what you believe in and what you think is right," Brown said.

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