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Longtime state BOE member finishes term; 2nd seat still open

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By Mackenzie Mays  
The Charleston Gazette  

A seat on the West Virginia Board of Education opened up Thursday – and a second seat remains unfilled nearly two years after it opened.

Robert Dunlevy, of Ohio County, attended his last state school board meeting as a member on Thursday. His nine-year term will officially expire Nov. 4.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin -- who appoints members of the state school board -- still not filled the seat of Priscilla Haden, who resigned in December 2012.

Haden and another former school board member, Jenny Phillips, resigned after other board members abruptly voted to terminate state superintendent of schools Jorea Marple. Marple is now suing the state board for wrongful termination.

Chris Stadelman, director of communications for Tomblin, said Thursday that the governor is taking his time to ensure the right person gets on the board.

“The governor understands that people are eager to see who that replacement is going to be. He is discussing it and well aware of it,” Stadelman said. “But he’s taking his time because he needs to make sure it’s a person who fits the board’s goals and long-term plans.”

Haden’s replacement must be a Republican from the 2nd Congressional District. Haden had asked in her resignation letter that Tomblin replace her with someone from the Eastern Panhandle, saying the district is too often represented by someone from Kanawha County.

Dunlevy’s replacement will be a Democrat from the 1st Congressional District.

No more than five members on the board can represent the same political party.

Current school board members include President Gayle Manchin, wife of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, of Marion County; Vice President Michael Green of Monongalia County; Tina Combs of Berkeley County; Wade Linger of Marion County; William White of Mercer County; Lloyd Jackson of Lincoln County and Tom Campbell of Greenbrier County.

Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor Paul Hill, West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education Chancellor James Skidmore and State Superintendent Michael Martirano serve as non-voting members of the board.

Also at Thursday’s state school board meeting, the board placed new science standards on public comment that align with Common Core.

The standards are part of the state’s Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives and define the standards and practices students will learn from kindergarten through high school.

Education officials said that the new standards will allow students to be more involved in hands-on learning and will also be based in literacy.

“Standards are all about doing,” said Theresa Hammond, coordinator of the state Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning. “Students should be engaged from the minute they walk into the classroom.”

The policy is on public comment for 30 days and can be viewed at http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies