CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Clayton Burch, the newly named West Virginia superintendent of schools believes in a bright future for state schools, even if he is not in the same position for it.
Burch was named to the position without an interim or acting superintendent tag on February 21 in an emergency meeting to replace Dr. Steve Paine, who retired. That is because the state superintendent of schools is a constitutional office and state code requires it to be filled.
A national search is continuing for the position of a permanent superintendent, a position Burch can apply for. When asked recently on MetroNews ‘Talkline’ whether he would want the permanent position, Burch said, “I think we are in a great position, poised to do some great things. We have such alignment with the governor and the legislation right now.
“We have a wonderful board and department,” he continued. “A lot of the work I have put in over the years has really put us in the position to do some great things in the state.”
Burch, who has been with the Department of Education for 13 years, credited Paine for leaving the department in a strong position. He said the department is holding everybody accountable for low National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores including itself.
“We are under a new accountability system thanks to Dr. Paine, the governor, the legislation and state board to where we are really holding all folks accountable. The students, the teachers, parents, superintendents, and principals. Here in Building 6, we are accountable,” Burch said.
He admitted that the NAEP scores that came out last year were “miserable.” Burch said part of the struggles in the school system has been because of trauma and that is why trauma is his number one issue to address.
“Our teachers and our staff out there in the field deal with such trauma. Whether it be from poverty, the opioid crisis, trauma is the number one issue,” Burch said.
“We have to go find a way to support the communities and the schools when it comes to dealing with trauma.”
Clayton Burch, New West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools, speaks with @HoppyKercheval about becoming the new superintendent, and what demands his immediate attention for schools in West Virginia. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIRZCB pic.twitter.com/1eOaNQM99z
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) February 24, 2020
Over the last few years, Burch was borrowed by the Justice administration 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.
He was sworn in with a salary of $233,000.
The posting for the job of superintendent happened on February 14 following the approved search timeline. The application deadline is March 13. The school board plans to review applications on April 8 and conduct interviews on April 23-24. It previously set May 13 as the day to name the new superintendent.