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West Virginia Superintendent of Schools

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West Virginia Superintendent of Schools
General information
Office Type:  Nonpartisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $53,106,950
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   Serves at the pleasure of the Board of Education
Authority:  West Virginia Constitution, Article XII, Section 2
Selection Method:  Appointed by West Virginia Board of Education
Current Officeholder

James Phares.jpg
Name:  James Phares
Assumed office:  January 2, 2013
Compensation:  $165,000
Other West Virginia Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerSecretary of CommerceCommissioner of LaborPublic Service Commission
The West Virginia Superintendent of Schools is an appointed, state executive position in the West Virginia state government. The superintendent is the chief school officer of the state, overseeing West Virginia's public school system of 55 individual school districts.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is James B. Phares.[1]

Chuck Heinlien was previously serving in an interim capacity, pending the State Board of Education's appointment of a permanent replacement for Heinlein's former boss, Jorea Marple, who was fired by the board on November 15, 2012. Marple was appointed to the position by the state Board of Education on March 1, 2011.[2]


Article 12 of the West Virginia Constitution establishes a Board of Education, with nine members appointed by the Governor. The Board is responsible for selecting the superintendent.

Article XII, Section 2: Supervision of Free Schools

The general supervision of the free schools of the State shall be vested in the West Virginia board of education which shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by law. The board shall consist of nine members to be appointed by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, for overlapping terms of nine years, except that the original appointments shall be for terms of one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and nine years, respectively. No more than five members of the board shall belong to the same political party, and in addition to the general qualifications otherwise required by the Constitution, the legislature may require other specific qualifications for membership on the board. No member of the board may be removed from office by the governor except for official misconduct, incompetence, neglect of duty, or gross immorality, and then only in the manner prescribed by law for the removal by the governor of state elective officers.

The West Virginia board of education shall in the manner prescribed by law, select the state superintendent of free schools who shall serve at its will and pleasure. He shall be the chief school officer of the State and shall have such powers and shall perform such duties as may be prescribed by law.

The state superintendent of free schools shall be a member of the board of public works as provided by subsection B, section fifty-one, article six of this Constitution.


Chapter 18, Article 3 of the West Virginia Code specifies the qualifications for holding the office of superintendent:

There shall be appointed by the state board a State Superintendent of Schools who shall serve at the will and pleasure of the state board. He or she shall be a person of good moral character, of recognized ability as a school administrator, holding at least a master's degree in educational administration, and shall have had not less than five years of experience in public school work...

  • good moral character
  • recognized ability as a school administrator
  • hold at least a Master's degree in educational administration
  • have at least 5 years work experience in public schools


The superintendent of schools is appointed by the West Virginia Board of Education, and serves "at its will and pleasure."


Vacancies in the office are filled by appointment from the West Virginia Board of Education.


The superintendent of schools is the chief executive officer of the Board of Education, charged with supervision of all public school districts and local boards of education in the state. Additional duties of the office include:

  • enforcing laws pertaining to education, including the removal of school officials
  • conducting conference of all county, district, and city superintendents
  • interpreting the meaning of any part of the school law or of the rules of the state board of education
  • publishing manuals of the courses of study prescribed by the board of education
  • providing an annual report to the state legislature
  • closing school buildings and district facilities that fail to comply with an order of the state fire marshal
  • classify all schools on the basis of standards established by the board of education

One of the newest duties of the superintendent is to establish a special community development school pilot program. The program is focused on one school for five years, and targets disadvantaged, minority and underachieving students. The idea is for school leaders to engage community organizations and other educational institutions to develop strategies to improve academic achievement that can be replicated in other schools with similar student populations. The superintendent provides yearly reports to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability, beginning in January 2011, on the status of the program.[3]

Click here to view a larger-scale image of the West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Office Organizational Chart as of March 8, 2013.


The superintendent is supported by offices of instructional technology, communications, human resources, information systems, and legal services. There are four primary educational divisions within the department, each with separate offices under its direction. There are also several ancillary organizations that fall under the purview of the West Virginia Board of Education over which the superintendent's office has no direct authority: the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, the Office of Education Performance Audits, and the Regional Education Service Agencies.[4]

State budget

The budget for the Department of Education in Fiscal Year 2013 was $53,106,950.[5]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

Chapter 18, Article 3 of the West Virginia Code specifies compensation for the office of superintendent:

...He or she shall receive an annual salary set by the state board, to be paid monthly: Provided, That the annual salary may not exceed one hundred forty-six thousand one hundred dollars: Provided, however, That after the thirtieth day of June, two thousand six, the annual salary may not exceed one hundred seventy-five thousand dollars. The state superintendent also shall receive necessary traveling expenses incident to the performance of his or her duties to be paid out of the General School Fund upon warrants of the State Auditor...


In 2012, the superintendent of schools was paid an estimated $165,000. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.


In 2010, the West Virginia Superintendent of Schools was paid an estimated $175,000 according to the Council of State Governments[6]

Contact information

West Virginia Department of Education
1900 Kanawha Boulevard East
Building 6, Room 358
Charleston, WV 25305

Phone: 304-558-2681
Fax: 304-558-0048
Email: Darcel Vermillion, Administrative Assistant to State Superintendent

See also

External links

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