W.Va. schools superintendent announces he will leave job next summer

By Brad McElhinny in News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Michael Martirano, the state superintendent of schools, announced plans to leave the position next summer.

In a news release, Martirano said he intends to resign his position on June 30, 2017, to move closer to his family in Maryland. By making the announcement now, Martirano said, the state school board will have plenty of time to find a new superintendent.

Martirano said personal family matters have made it necessary to move closer to home and his children. His wife, Silvana Martirano, died earlier this year at age 54. He said Tuesday that his responsibilities as a father now weigh heavy on his mind.

“My priorities have always been God, spouse, family and everything else. My thoughts would be that I would be able to handle the distance, but quite frankly, there’s a great emotional need for us to be closer together,” Martirano told MetroNews. “My oldest daughter has now announced that she’s expecting, and my son’s getting married. These are great life markers. I didn’t just have children to be an absentee father. I want to be engaged in (their lives).”

In his resignation letter, Martirano wrote, “With the prolonged illness of my wife and her eventual death, I now find myself being both a dad and mom to my three children who reside in Maryland.”

In September, 2014, Martirano was named West Virginia’s 30th state superintendent of schools. He advocated for consistent standards to judge student educational progress.

“It is with a heavy heart that I accept Dr. Martirano’s resignation,” stated Mike Green, president of the state school board. “Dr. Martirano has done an outstanding job as our state superintendent, has had a positive impact on the state’s educational system and has mapped out a clear path for continuous improvement.”

Before coming to West Virginia, Martirano was superintendent for Saint Mary’s Public Schools in Leonardtown, Maryland, where he was the longest-serving superintendent in the state. He was recognized as the 2009 superintendent of the year in Maryland.

Martirano said the nine month notice should give the West Virginia Board of Education enough time to find his replacement. He said he’s committed to not being a lame duck superintendent and promised to help with the transition. Martirano also believes improvements in the last two years will continue in the state’s education system.

“Great leaders are ones who are able to have what is defined as ‘irreversible momentum.’ To put in place programs that will be difficult to reverse, that are not dependent just upon the leader that is in the seat the the current time,” Martirano said. “The work that we have done has created that irreversible momentum.”

In West Virginia, Martirano replaced the retiring Jim Phares.