Brooke County members are celebrating a big grievance win two years in the making! In March 2020, when the county withheld salary stipends provided by the excess levy, WVEA members filed a grievance. Levy funds must be spent specifically as listed, and Brooke County Schools failed to do so. The county paid the fall stipend, but only early retirees received the spring stipend. Adding to the problem, the previous superintendent gave raises to directors, but the county claimed to not have the money to pay the spring stipends, suggesting the misallocation of excess levy funds. To receive the stipends, employees had to meet certain work criteria. The work was completed, but the pay was withheld.
Before the grievance was filed, legal counsel for the county presented at a local board meeting stating it was illegal for the county to pay these stipends because the county did not have the money. Because the stipends were included in the excess levy call and there were no significant changes to the amount of taxes the county received, this also suggested a misallocation of funds. Once the grievance process began, WVEA members and members from other associations provided a united front fighting for their stipends. The grievance went through Level One and Level Two and was scheduled to have a Level Three hearing before the county reached a settlement agreement. The board of education unanimously voted to restore the stipends.
The settlement was reached this March and over two hundred employees, both service and professional, will receive $19,500 split up over the next five semesters. WVEA members made up the majority of these employees, and WVEA attorney Alex Risovich said the long battle was worth getting 100% of the stipend funds promised through the levy. Retired staff and those no longer working will also receive payments from the settlement.
This is a perfect example of how WVEA works to improve your working conditions and student learning conditions. From the Legislature to the WV Department of Education and your local Board of Education, WVEA leaders and staff are advocating for your interests and the interests of your students. We voice your concerns. WVEA is your professional organization—protecting your interests while you are at work.
Contact WVEA’s Help Center to discuss your concerns or ask questions to WVEA Member Advocacy Specialists Ben Barkey and Cindy Stump by calling 1-866-568-WVEA (9832). You may also email anytime using firstname.lastname@example.org. Your Organizational Development Specialists (ODS) are also available, and you can find their contact information by visiting www.wvea.org/wveastaff.