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West Virginia teacher walkouts still expected Thursday

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — With teachers and some other public workers planning a statewide walkout Thursday and Friday over pay and benefits, many schools around West Virginia have announced plans to close those days.

Teachers have held rallies decrying low pay, small proposed increases after several years without any and projected hikes in their insurance costs.

The Legislature on Tuesday night approved a 2 percent raise next year for teachers followed by 1 percent raises the following two years.

Earlier, the Public Employees Insurance Agency agreed to freeze premiums and rates for the next fiscal year for teachers and other public workers covered by the plan.

West Virginia Education Association spokeswoman Kym Randolph says Wednesday those actions haven’t affected teachers’ walkout plans “and in some respects the pay bill upset them more.”

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