By Dianne Weaver

Teacher pay is on the burner again.

Charles DeLauder, president of the West Virginia Education Association, the state's biggest teachers union, says "West Virginia is 47th in the nation in teacher pay."

DeLauder said every state that borders West Virginia pays their teachers a minimum of $3,000 more a year, with the problem worse in the eastern panhandle, where teacher's are lured by $10,000 more in neighboring states.

The WVEA is lobbying for a 6 percent increase for teachers and school employees, but the amount of increase being considered is less than 3 percent.

Administrators are looking at the amount of local share counties are able to keep. In Eastern Panhandle counties this would be a boon in funding because of high property values.

"That's a partial solution," said Delegate Mary Poling, D-Barbour, who sits on the House Education Committee. "It gives them some options, short of having this magical salary schedule that addresses all their needs."

Schools still need better Internet access and technology specialists to provide training and support to teachers and students, according to Steve Paine, state superintendent of schools.

Delauder says the funding for public education in 1992-93 was 57 percent of the state budget. Now its 49 percent. He says that shows a lack of commitment.

Delauder says teacher pay is $10,000 below the national average while 92 percent of the state's teachers are recognized as being highly qualified.