UPDATE: West Virginia legislators eye measures to end teacher st - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: West Virginia legislators eye measures to end teacher strike

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West Virginia legislators plan to meet Tuesday to weigh some possible compromise aimed at ending the strike by West Virginia teachers now entering its ninth day.

A show of support by thousands of teachers and supporters on Monday didn't immediately sway lawmakers, who failed to agree on a 5 percent pay raise that would end the strike, forcing districts to cancel Tuesday's classes.

The governor, union leaders and the House of Delegates agreed to the pay raise for the teachers, among the lowest paid in the nation, but the Senate offered only a 4 percent increase.

However, at a conference committee Monday evening, Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns says his chamber's leadership is offering "a compromise position" for further consideration Tuesday morning.

Details were not disclosed publicly.

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West Virginia lawmakers are set to start addressing differences in pay raise bills for striking teachers.

A six-member committee is scheduled to meet Monday afternoon at the state Capitol in Charleston.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted Saturday evening to approve a 4 percent raise. The Republican-controlled House of Delegates earlier passed a 5 percent raise, an agreement that Republican Gov. Jim Justice had worked out with unions.

House members later Saturday wouldn't agree to the Senate's move, and the two bills were sent to a legislative conference committee.

The committee includes Delegates Bill Anderson, R-Wood; Brent Boggs, D-Braxton; House Education Chairman Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson; Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio; Senate Finance Chairman Craig Blair, R-Berkeley; and Sen. Robert Plymale, D-Wayne.

Teachers went on strike statewide Feb. 22.

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.

West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety spokesman Lawrence Messina says more than 5,000 people had filed through two security entrances as of noon Monday. He says visitor access was cut off about an hour later.

Messina says "given the size of the lines still waiting outside, and the placement of the crowds inside, Capitol Police and the State Fire Marshal' Office agreed that a safety concern was imminent."

Messina says he didn't know how many people were turned away, but the lines still stretched around the Capitol by early afternoon.

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