Extra Credit

State superintendent hires new chief of staff

Superintendent Michael Martirano has made a number of personnel changes to the West Virginia Department of Education since becoming the state’s schools chief in September 2014.

West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Michael Martirano has hired a chief of staff who will oversee the day-to-day operations of his office.

While the state Department of Education has not yet made an announcement, the hiring of Jill Newman is listed on the state Board of Education’s February meeting agenda in an attachment detailing personnel matters. According to that document, Newman will join the department on Feb. 23 and will be paid an annual salary of $125,000.

The department posted the job in December, and Martirano announced last month during a meeting with the state’s Senate Education Committee that he would soon fill the newly created position.

At that meeting, Martirano addressed concerns with the department’s staffing levels, but said the hiring and other personnel changes he has made since becoming superintendent in September will make his office more efficient and effective.

Legislators have been critical of the department’s staffing since 2012 when Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin commissioned an audit that concluded the department had a bloated administration that wasted millions.

Martirano already has a number of executive assistants, hired by former superintendents, who have job duties similar to those of the chief of staff. They each receive salaries ranging from $60,000 to $95,000.

The chief of staff, however, will have a more specialized role and, in addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of Martirano’s office, will ensure there is effective communication and alignment between the department, the Board of Education and other education officials throughout the state.

The Daily Mail awaits more information on Newman’s hiring, including her education and professional experience and whether she is a local or out-of-state hire, but according to the department, qualifications for the position included a master’s degree in education or a related field and five years of experience working with superintendents or other executives.

Newman’s hiring is part of a larger reshuffling in Building 6 Martirano says will help the department better carry out his vision plan, “One Voice, Once Focus, All Students Achieving.”

In January, Martirano changed the organizational structure of his cabinet by reclassifying the titles of his senior administrators. The state’s four associate superintendents are now called chief officers. He also hired a legislative liaison.

The department incurred no costs by rebranding those job titles, and while the two new hires together will be paid about $215,000, department spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said they will not be paid with new money. She said the new positions are funded with money leftover from not filling a number of vacancies within the department. Tomblin instituted a hiring freeze on new non-essential state employees late in 2013.