West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice says striking teachers will return to the classroom on Thursday, and he's offering teachers and school service personnel a 5% pay raise in the first year. Justice made the announcement at a news conference Tuesday after emerging from a meeting with union leaders for teachers in all 55 counties, the AP reports. Justice had signed across-the-board teacher pay raises of $808 next year and $404 the following two years. But teachers had said the increases weren't enough, especially as health care costs rise. The state's average teacher pay ranks among the lowest in the nation. Chief of Staff Mike Hall says the latest pay raise proposal is based on revised revenue estimates of $58 million based on economic forecasts. The pay increases would have to be approved by the Legislature.
Teachers began their walkout on Thursday, their first statewide strike since 1990. All public schools in the state were closed for days during the strike. The teachers are represented by the American Federation of Teachers and the West Virginia Education Association. Also on strike are members of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, which includes support staff.
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