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Editorial: State board headed in wrong hiring direction

Mar. 15, 2013 @ 11:56 PM

Moves by the West Virginia Board of Education to add staff members are raising some eyebrows, and it's easy to see why. After all, an education audit released last year said there were too many people in Charleston overseeing the state's public education system, particularly at top-level positions.

The target of that criticism was the state's Department of Education, for which the state board sets policy. Now, the Board of Education wants to add what it is calling its own staff, or people who are answerable directly to the board.

Toward that end, the board this week hired former education department administrator Donna Pedutoto to fill a newly created position of "director of operations" at an annual salary of $104,000.

The board's budget for the coming year also included money for a "liaison" and a board attorney. Altogether, those two positions and the director of operations come with a total price tag of $350,000.

Board President Wade Linger defended the desire to add employees by saying the board needs its own staff rather than relying on the Department of Education. The public may not see that distinction, nor does state law, it seems.

As spelled out in West Virginia code, the state superintendent of schools, who leads the education department, is the chief executive officer for the board of education. As such, he and his department is supposed to carry out the rules and policies of the state board of education.

Considering that, it seems the board of education already has a staff -- the state superintendent as well as the Department of Education, which numbers more than 300 people -- to carry out its policies. It shouldn't be adding even more administrators.

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