Steve Paine named W.Va. superintendent of schools — again

By Brad McElhinny in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the state Board of Education voted for Steve Paine to be the new superintendent of schools.

Paine was state superintendent during the Manchin administration from 2005-2011. He’s currently the interim superintendent in Wayne County.

Paine starts Monday at a salary of $230,000 a year.
Tom Campbell, the state school board president, said it worked out well that Paine is available right away because of the challenges the state is facing. The state’s public education system could be subject to significant budget cuts under a proposal by the Republican leaders in the state Legislature.

“Whatever they work out, getting that budget administered for the next fiscal year is going to be a challenge,” Campbell said after today’s state board meeting.

He replaces Michael Martirano, who had announced his departure for this summer but who instead will leave immediately. The board issued a public statement thanking Martirano for his service. Martirano has been superintendent since 2014.

“He was most gracious when I talked to him on the phone. We do thank him for his service and wish him well,” Campbell said.

The other candidates for the job were current state Chief Career Technical Education Officer Kathy D’Antoni and Jackson County Superintendent Blaine Hess. The three finalists were chosen from an original list of 12 applicants.

All three were interviewed today. Members of the state school board came out from an executive session about 4 p.m. and voted unanimously for Paine as their choice.

“They were all good candidates,” Campbell said. “We’re hopeful they’re all going to stay involved in the education system. The consensus the board came up with was at this time Dr. Paine is the best person for this job.

“Having had the position before, he does have a great deal of experience with the position and how to implement it.”

Paine joined the West Virginia Department of Education in 2003 as the deputy state superintendent of schools after serving as superintendent of Morgan County Schools. He has also served as principal, assistant principal, teacher and curriculum director in the Upshur and Harrison county school systems. Paine is the recipient of the prestigious Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. Paine has an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership Studies, and an M.A. in Educational Administration. He also has a B.A. in Education.

“I am humbled to be appointed as the Superintendent of Schools and once again serve the students throughout West Virginia,” Paine stated in a release from the state Department of Education.

“I am committed to ensuring that our education system provides all children the opportunity for a world-class education and I look forward to working closely with the State Board, Governor Justice, our lawmakers and educators to prepare the students of the Mountain State to be successful in life.”

Gov. Jim Justice, who campaigned in part on doing away with the Smarter Balanced standardized test and the A-F school grading system that were products of Martirano’s time in office, has largely made over the state school board in a matter of weeks.

Early Wednesday evening, Justice named appointed Jeffrey D. Flanagan of Kanawha County and Frank Vitale of Monongalia County as the newest members of the board. In January, the governor announced the three new members all at once — longtime educators Miller Hall, Barbara Whitecotton, and Chuck Hatfield. In early February, Justice named educator Dave Perry of Fayette County to the board.

The presidents of West Virginia’s teachers unions, interviewed at the Capitol Rotunda, said they are enthusiastic about Paine’s return.

“We’ve worked with Steve in the past when he was superintendent before. We have a good relationship with him. We know he is favorable to the students, to the teachers who teach the students and all school employees,” said Christine Campbell, president of the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia.

“We really believe he can work with the department, with the state board and with educators to move us forward.”

Dale Lee, the president of the West Virginia Education Association, had a similarly positive reaction.

“He is very teacher-friendly, cares tremendously about the kids of West Virginia,” Lee said. “I’m looking forward to him starting on Monday and moving the state forward. It’s time for all educators come together, united, and fight off some of the crazy things that are happening in public education.”

Lee said a top priority is to fight off possible cuts to the state’s K-12 education system.

“That would destroy public education in many of our counties,” he said. “We need to all unite and say enough is enough.”