Senator Manchin urges Senate Republicans to end statewide teacher strike

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Garcia said she believes if the West Virginia Senate would have passed the 5 percent pay raise bill proposed by Gov. Jim Justice and passed last week by the House, the strike would be over.

The revised forecast allowed lawmakers to approve a larger pay raise package for public employees than had been approved earlier this session.

That leaves West Virginia's parents anxiously trying to fill their children's idle hours with something besides playing video games, and teachers showing rising discontent as the strike drags on amid concerns about their own income.

"To accomplish that, we have instructed our respective Finance Committee staffs to pull data and put together the necessary fiscal information, and have separately reached out to the Governor's Office staff to ask for more budgetary information from the executive branch", he added.

In this February 23, 2018, photo, West Virginia teachers, from left, Christi Phillips, Cody Thompson, Sam Brunett and Kristie Skidmore discuss a teachers strike at the state Capitol in Charleston, W.Va. The House wouldn't agree to the Senate's move, sending the bill to the conference committee.

"We recognize the urgency of this situation", Paul Espinosa, chair of the House Education Committee and co-chair of the conference committee said of the stalemate.

An online fundraiser launched to help support West Virginia's teachers, who entered their eighth day of a statewide strike on Monday, has raised more than $200,000.

Democrats in the Legislature say new revenue projections show the money is there and that a 5% raise would amount to $13 million more in spending than a 4% bump.

As many as 20,000 teachers took part in a walkout on February 22, bringing classes for almost 277,000 students to a halt.

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Many teachers, service personnel and other citizens have descended on the state Capitol to express their concerns about pay. Smith said he started the fundraiser "to help support teachers and school service personnel who are taking on great personal cost to organize and support their families during the strike, and beyond".

Officials have shut down visitor access to the West Virginia Capitol building after thousands of striking teachers seeking better pay and improved health benefits arrived to lobby lawmakers. In a state with a 17.9 percent poverty rate, teachers and volunteers have gathered food for distribution to students who rely on free breakfasts and lunches at school.

"This wrangling needs to stop right now", Gov. Justice said.

Teachers have said they will continue to strike until a 5% raise is passed, and their supporters agree.

But Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said while teachers want other state workers to get the the same 5 percent raise, they won't settle for less for the sake of equality. In Oklahoma, public school teachers are considering a strike over their salaries. A 2 percent raise will do little to cover such an increase in cost.

Brunett does freelance art work on the side.

Kristie Skidmore, an elementary school reading specialist, has an adult clothing shop at her home. "We've been able to do this without tax increases".

Stafford, a Charleston seventh-grader, said that since the strike began, he's attended sleepovers and played Xbox games.

Charleston fifth grader Kelsie Hodges has taken some extra skating lessons with her mother at a South Charleston ice arena.