Burch named new state school chief

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Board of Education promoted Associate State School Superintendent Clayton Burch to the top job in an emergency meeting Friday afternoon in Charleston.

The board called the meeting after receiving a letter from Dr. Steve Paine who decided to move up his previously announced June 30 retirement to Friday.

Clayton Burch

Paine’s letter, read by Board President Dave Perry, explained how Paine’s wife needed his full attention. She is suffering from chronic pain. The board accepted the retirement on a unanimous vote and then emerged from a short executive session to appoint Burch to the position. Burch was then sworn-in as superintendent. The board set his salary at $233,000. Paine was paid $230,000.

The state superintendent of schools is a constitutional office and state code requires it to be filled. There is no interim or acting superintendent tag on Burch but the board did say it planned to continue with its national search for a permanent superintendent. Burch can apply for the position.

Burch, who has been with the Department of Education for 13 years, credited Paine for leaving the department in a strong position.

“I appreciate the board and the confidence they have,” Burch said. “I think we do have a strong foundation. I do believe Dr. Paine in his second go around here has put us in a very good place.”

State BOE President Dave Perry

Perry said Burch fully understood the mission of the school board and would continue the momentum. Longtime board member Tom Campbell agreed.

“I think we’re building on a strong foundation, we’re going to keep moving forward,” Campbell predicted. “We appreciate Dr. Paine’s efforts and we appreciate Mr. Burch’s going forward.”

Board member Debra Sullivan said continuity is important.

“I know he’s been very involved in all of the initiatives that are going on and the staff is used to working with you, so that should help to bring solidity and forward movement,” Sullivan said.

Burch was borrowed by the Justice administration over the last few years to fill some other positions. He spent some time as Secretary of Education and the Arts and as Secretary of Commerce before returning to the Department of Education.

Gov. Jim Justice

In a statement released Friday evening, Gov. Jim Justice said Burch is “stuck on ‘on’ all the time.”

“I congratulate Clayton for being named to this important role leading our Department of Education. He has been a true friend of mine and someone who has done so much for the State of West Virginia,” Justice said. “Clayton has already served in two different roles as a member of my cabinet, including as Acting Secretary for the Department of Education and the Arts and as the Interim Secretary of Commerce. He has also been instrumental in helping get my Jobs & Hope West Virginia program off the ground. And, now, I’m excited to see him take on this new role.”

The posting for the job of superintendent happened Friday as part of the board’s previously approved search timeline. The application deadline is March 13. The school board plans to review applications April 8 and conduct interviews April 23-24. It previously set May 13 as the day to name the new superintendent.

Perry told MetroNews the job was advertised in at least two national publications and in media outlets across the state. He predicted the search would cost about $10,000. He said going with a search firm would have cost the state approximately $50,000.

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