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State superintendent of schools hires chief of staff

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State superintendent of schools hires chief of staff     
By Samuel Speciale, Education reporter
 
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, a retired U.S. Army official from Scott Depot, 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.

When asked if there is any unnecessary duplication in those duties, department spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro said the chief of staff has a more specialized role and that she and Martirano’s assistants will support and report to Newman.

In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of Martirano’s office, Newman will ensure there is effective communication and alignment between the department, the Board of Education and other education officials throughout the state.

“She comes in with a lot of experience,” Cordeiro said. “She has organizational skills and can see the bigger picture when setting a vision.”

According to Newman’s resume, she has 26 years of experience providing training, analysis, strategic and operational planning and project management to solve complex political and military challenges. She also lists her expertise in instruction, counseling, administration, planning and resource analysis and optimization.

The department’s 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 has master’s degrees in counseling education and strategic studies and has been division chief for several military operations.

Newman’s hiring is part of a larger reshuffling in Building 6 Martirano said 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, 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.