Dr. James Phares

West Virginia Department of Education

West Virginia Board of Education members unanimously approved a new schools chief who will take the post starting next week. On June 30, current Superintendent Dr. James Phares will retire, but the man filling his shoes is a familiar face to the department.

Board members voted to put current Deputy Superintendent Charles Heinlein in the position, with the understanding that when a new, ling-term chief is hired, he will return to his current job and current salary.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection opens up registration for above ground storage tanks. State Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares presents his final report to the Board of Education and outlines recommendations for future success. Also, the city of Huntington plans to provide free internet for a year.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia’s Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares announced his retirement in April, but last week, presented his final report to the state Board. In it, he recounted his accomplishments in leading the state’s education system forward, but also gave a warning about what work must continue in order to truly impact student achievement.

Some of the biggest accomplishments during his 18 month tenure included the passage and implementation of Senate Bill 359, the Governor’s Education Reform Act.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

After nearly a year since beginning the process of a nationwide search, members of the West Virginia State Board of Education say they’re getting closer to their goal of finding a new state schools chief.

Consulting firm Ray and Associates, Inc., presented the board with 64 completed applications at their meeting at Stonewall Resort in Lewis County Thursday. The applicants represented 43 different states.


West Virginia's former state school superintendent has filed a second lawsuit contending she was unfairly fired.

Jorea Marple's latest legal claim was filed this week in Kanawha County Circuit Court, according to media reports. A similar lawsuit is pending in federal court.

West Virginia Department of Education

Retiring state schools Superintendent James Phares says he viewed his brief stint as an opportunity to help make a difference in West Virginia's education system.

Phares is stepping down on June 30 after 18 months on the job. He says that was set long ago as the day he'd walk with his wife into retirement.
Phares was Randolph County's schools superintendent when he was hired to replace the fired Jorea Marple.

West Virginia Department of Education

State Board of Education members are now under even more pressure to complete their nationwide search for a new state superintendent of schools after Dr. James Phares announced Tuesday he would retire from that position in June.

In a short letter to state Board President Gayle Manchin, Phares cited pressing family issues and a desire to spend some time out of the public eye as reasons for retiring from his current position, as well as his 40 years of service in public education.

Three Calhoun County school employees have gone to court over the county Board of Education's decision to cancel spring break.
The Charleston Gazette reports that each employee filed a lawsuit Monday in Kanawha County Circuit Court against the county board and the state Board of Education.

West Virginia Department of Education

The West Virginia Department of Education said through a news release that they are working with the West Virginia National Guard following a directive from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin. Tomblin has called for additional water testing to confirm that all schools in the counties impacted by the chemical leak on Jan. 9 are under 2 parts per billion (ppb).

The Senate passes a bill that would make pseudoephedrine available by prescription only. Committees in the state legislature's upper house also took up bill pertaining to the budget and drug testing of coal mine employees who work in safety-related positions. Members of the House consider legislation allowing businesses to reduce the number of hours an employee works to avoid layoffs. Also, state Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Phares talks with Ashton Marra about a teacher hiring bill passed in the House, another bill that would limit the timeline for the state to take control of a county school system, and how schools are ensuring the safety of students after the Jan. 9 spill into the Elk River.

Two West Virginia schools closed early because of an odor resembling the chemical that spilled into a regional water system last month.
     Riverside High and Midland Trail Elementary in Kanawha County closed Wednesday morning because of the licorice smell.
     The chemical wasn't detected in previous testing.

Ashton Marra

The state superintendent said enrollment numbers in public schools statewide are down and the Department of Education is now left trying to figure out where those students have gone.

Superintendent Dr. James Phares reported to a Joint Committee on Education, student enrollment has decreased by more than 1,200 student since last year.

Harrison County led the enrollment decrease losing 283 in the last five years.

Only about a quarter of West Virginia schools met state-mandated requirements in student proficiency and academic growth according to data released by the state Department of Education. The results, based on WESTEST scores from this year, are the first to be released under the state’s new accountability system, created by West Virginia education experts.  While department leaders see the new system as a step forward for West Virginia students, the principal of one school said he’s still waiting to see the major changes roll out.