By Ashton Marra
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Members of the Senate Finance Committee Friday morning voted to remove language from a bill increasing teachers' salaries by $1,000 across the board.
Members of the Senate Education Committee voted last week to increase the raise from the initial 2 percent promised by Governor Tomblin during his State of the State Address in January.
In Finance, however, the bill was returned to its original form, saving the state nearly $5 million, but left intact language making it a legislative goal to raise the minimum starting salary of teachers to $43,000 by 2019. Currently, entry level teachers make about $28,000 a year.
Union representatives said they were disappointed by the committee's decision. President of the West Virginia Chapter of the Federation of Teachers, Christine Campbell, said the salary increase was about recruiting and retaining quality teachers to replace a workforce retiring in high numbers.
"We're facing a teacher shortage because we have an older base," Campbell said. "This was an opportunity to move in the right direction and provide for our future."
West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee called the vote disheartening, but added it’s early in the legislative process and changes may come in the House.
The bill also provides a 2 percent pay raise for school service personnel.