The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

December 13, 2012

Phares hired as superintendent

HAMLIN — James Phares will serve as West Virginia schools superintendent, for at least the short-term, after the state Board of Education chose the Randolph County school chief Wednesday.

The board unanimously voted to hire Phares after interviewing both him and Kathy D’Antoni, an assistant state superintendent, during a daylong meeting held at Lincoln County High School.

The length of Phares’ tenure, which would start Jan. 2, is unclear. The board also agreed Wednesday to conduct a national search for a long-term superintendent. That plan calls on the Legislature to revisit the job’s qualifications and duties, amid questions over whether the relevant law is too restrictive or fails to reflect current needs.

Board members nominated and then interviewed both candidates ahead of the vote, with D’Antoni choosing to be quizzed behind closed doors. Phares fielded 10 questions before the board and its audience on such topics as spending, leadership and the much-discussed audit of West Virginia’s education system.

Phares noted that finances improved while he was superintendent of Randolph, and before that for Pocahontas and Marion counties. He recounted the successful passage of a property tax excess levy to raise school funding as an example of successfully working with parents and the community. He expressed support for the changes called for by the board in the wake of the education audit.

“I’m willing to become part of the momentum that’s building here,” Phares told reporters after the meeting. He added, “I’m willing to serve and work as hard as I can to implement the audit response and put it into action.”

The board has said that a desire to change direction led to its vote last month to fire Jorea Marple as superintendent, less than two years into her tenure.

Phares pledged to work with the Department of Education, given the fallout surrounding Marple’s ouster and the partial blame assigned to bureaucracy by the audit for West Virginia’s poor student performance. Asked whether he has second-guessed any of his decisions, Phares spoke of the October stabbing death of a Randolph County student by another juvenile shortly before the start of a high school football game. Phares supported allowing the game to be played but has since mulled over that call, he told the board.

Phares will take over from Charles Heinlein, a deputy superintendent who was asked to fill in after Marple’s firing.

Board President Wade Linger endorsed Phares almost immediately after that surprise Nov. 15 vote. The board met again last month to affirm the dismissal, while fielding protests from Marple supporters, amid concerns that the initial meeting violated the state law requiring open proceedings. A pending Supreme Court petition filed by two Boone County parents alleges the board failed to comply with the open meetings law. James and Michelle Hicks say Marple had refused to support no-bid contracts involving conflicts of interest. They are asking the justices to void Marple’s firing and block any new hire.

Linger on Tuesday called for an independent review of all board and Department of Education contracts in light of that accusation. Linger wants a lawyer with no ties to the department or state government to conduct the review. The board’s monthly meeting agenda included discussion of the case, and of Freedom of Information Act requests filed by The Associated Press and other media organizations in the wake of Marple’s firing.

The board on Wednesday also welcomed just-retired Delegate Tom Campbell as its newest member. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin appointed the Greenbrier County accountant on Monday for a full nine-year term. The 51-year-old Democrat served eight terms in the House of Delegates and chaired its Education Committee in 2005 and 2006. Campbell chose not to run for re-election this year.

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • forum1 VIDEO: Meet the Candidates

    ABOUT THE FORUM:
    The Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Meet the Candidates forum Thursday morning at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

    April 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Forum: U.S. Senate and House

    U.S. Senate
    The lone candidate for U.S. Senate to attend the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidate Forum, David Wamsley, described himself as “the most liberal candidate, the most conservative candidate and the most moderate candidate” in the race. Wamsley said he believes each individual issue should be dealt with on its merits and not because of partisan politics.

    April 25, 2014

  • Forum: House of Delegates

    District 28
    Democratic House of Delegates candidates Jeffry Pritt and James Brown focused on issues dealing with the efficiency of the Legislature, crime, infrastructure and taxes.

    April 25, 2014

  • Forum: Board of Education

    Perennial board of education issues of technology, consolidation and truancy were among the questions dealt with Thursday by candidates for a seat on the Raleigh County Board of Education.

    April 25, 2014

  • After being line-item vetoed from state budget, Meadow Bridge to get $50,000 from WVDOE

    After the prospect was initially vetoed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in March, Fayette County School Superintendent Keith Butcher announced this week that the county will indeed receive funds for Meadow Bridge High School after all.

    April 25, 2014

  • ARH, BARH registered nurses to stage one-day strike

    A national labor union announced Thursday that registered nurses at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital will join colleagues at Appalachian Regional Hospital in Hazard, Ky., in staging a one-day strike May 1.

    April 25, 2014

  • expressway Coalfields Expressway developments detailed by WVDOT

    A convoy of press, public and politics raised clouds of dust along an unfinished corridor of the long-awaited Coalfields Expressway Thursday during an open tour of the construction zone.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mercer County firefighters batting three different brush fires

    Firefighters are currently on the scene of at least three brush fires now burning in rural areas of Mercer County.

    April 24, 2014

  • BeverlyMagnumMUG.jpg Woman who attempted to rob bank at gunpoint captured in Tennessee

    A woman who attempted to rob a Bluefield bank at gunpoint has been captured in Tennessee , police said Thursday.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former federal prison worker pleads guilty to sex offense

    A former federal prison employee pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Beckley to engaging in abusive sexual contact with a female inmate.

    April 24, 2014