WESTON, W.Va. — After nearly 40 years in education, Lewis County Superintendent Steve Casto will officially begin his retirement this summer, opting out of the second year of his contract.

Casto was in retirement for three years before he stepped in as interim superintendent May 2017 upon Dr. Joseph Mace’s retirement.

“As you know, they gave me a two-year contract,” Casto said. “I had intentions of staying for two years but no longer than that. I really didn’t retire. I substituted the three years I was retired as a principal, and I actually returned to my old position as a personnel director for about two or three months, so I was pretty active over those three years, semi-retired, so to speak.”

When Casto walked into the position last year, Lewis County Schools was heading into its second year on a statewide watch list because of budget issues and constraints.
“I faced a pretty serious shortfall at the beginning of this school year that I had to tackle immediately, and we’re in pretty good shape right now,” Casto said. “This year, from the time I took over to just last month, we have made over $400,000 in personnel cuts, so that’s going to go a long way for next year’s budget. We’re not seeing any red now, which is a good sign.”

While Casto has helped make improvements in Lewis County, he said he still has work to do, including filling some upcoming vacancies, such as Lewis County High School’s principal and other key personnel.

“I’m not going to miss a beat,” he said. “I’m going to work up to the last day as if it was my first day on the job. We’re realigning some positions and changing some positions from how they’ve been in the past. I still want to continue working on student achievement, school improvements, communications and school safety.”

Other issues, such as test scores and school safety, will take much longer to tackle, Casto said.

“Our text scores have not been the best,” he said. “They just haven’t been, and I have been working on that and seeing some progress on that, but I think that’s going to be a continued challenge for the new superintendent.”

Casto has dedicated his entire career in education to Lewis County, starting as a social studies teacher at Weston Junior High School in 1980 where he also coached football, basketball and track. He’s since worked “the full gamete,” serving as athletic director, assistant principal and principal before moving to the county office.

In those 38 years, Casto has seen significant changes in education, including discipline issues.

“We’re beginning to see challenging students at the elementary level, that I never, ever thought I would see as a teacher or as an administrator,” he said. “We’re seeing more disciplinary issues at the elementary level as we’ve ever seen.​”

Casto also said the introduction and use of social media has had a huge impact on education.

“So much so that we actually saw it as an opportunity rather than a challenge, so we jumped right in on social media,” he said. “We increased our presence on Facebook and improved our website and communication. We just thought we had to join in or get left out.​”

Casto’s last day will be June 30.