Ashton Marra Published

State BOE One Step Closer to Hiring New Superintendent


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.

Current Superintendent Dr. James Phares took the position in December of 2012 shortly after the abrupt firing of Dr. Jorea Marple. At the time, Phares said he would only stay in the position for about 18 months. He announced his retirement, effective at the end of June, in early April.

During an executive session Thursday, board members began reviewing applications and narrowing down candidates. Board President Gayle Manchin said they did not complete the process during that session and will continue during their regularly scheduled board meeting in Charleston next week.

Manchin said they have not determined how many candidates will participate in the first round of interviews, but the applicants have asked that their privacy be protected initially.

“Many of these people have jobs and may or may not want their employer to know they have applied to leave,” Manchin said, “but once it gets down to the final two or three candidates, then it becomes public information and they have the right to know.”

Manchin added she was hopeful the board could begin conducting the initial interviews next week.

In total, the search firm reported 248 individuals engaged with them in some way about the soon to be open superintendent position. They attributed the interest to West Virginia’s size and location.

The board announced they had hired the firm the same day Phares announced his retirement. The contract totaled about $43,000.

“We were pleased with the quality, diversity and experience of the candidates,” Manchin said Thursday. “There’s no doubt in my mind [hiring the firm] was the best thing we could do.”

The state board will hold their next meeting in Charleston on Wednesday, June 11. Manchin said she hopes they can complete the interview process, choose finalists and hire a new superintendent by the end of the month.