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Paine leaving Morgan post

December 24, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Steven L. Paine, Morgan County's superintendent of schools for five years, will leave the post Jan. 6 to take over as second in command of the West Virginia Department of Education, the president of the Morgan County Board of Education said Monday.

"We were hoping to get a couple of more years out of him," School Board President G. Larry Omps said. "Since he came here he has pretty much turned things around and greatly improved all of our schools. He's made a definite improvement."

Omps said Paine, who took over Morgan County public schools in the summer of 1998, "has consolidated the efforts of the professional staff and got everybody moving in the same direction. He brought a commitment to this community that carried through to those who worked for him."

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Paine will become deputy superintendent under State Schools Superintendent David Stewart. His salary in the state job will be $106,000. He earns $82,400 in Morgan County.

He came to Morgan County from Upshur County, where he was director of curriculum.

"We've had a lot of superintendents here over the years. It was like a revolving door," said Lance Fox, president of the Morgan County Education Association. "He (Paine) really cared about the kids. That's why they picked him for the state job. He gave us a voice and made sure we were involved in the decision-making."

During his tenure, Paine watched over a $6.5 million renovation of the 62-year-old Berkeley Springs High School. That work was completed this month.

The work included a new media center and telecommunications center for the district's distant learning programs, four new science lab/classrooms and new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems plus handicapped accessibility facilities, including new elevators.

Morgan County is ready to go to bid on a new elementary school in the Warm Springs Middle School complex. The cost of the new school is pegged at $5 million, he said.

Morgan County has two high schools, including the 7-12 Paw Paw High School, one middle school and five elementary schools. Countywide, there are 2,550 students and a professional staff of about 210.

Academically, the district made significant strides with Paine at the helm.

"Five years ago, Morgan County ranked as one of the lowest in the state in Stanford Nine Student Achievement tests," he said. "Now we're in the top 20 in the state."

The district also saw marked improvements in the West Virginia Writing Assessment tests. Schools there were well below average in 1998, Paine said. Students in grades four through seven rank 11th in the state and those in grades 10 are in the top 18, he said.

About 25 percent of the schools in Morgan County have been named exemplary schools by the state, Paine said. The other 75 percent are rated fully accredited.

"We pulled together as a school community and built our level of trust," he said. "The past five years have been the most outstanding in my career. I will miss the people here. Morgan County will always be a special place in the hearts of the Paine family."

Paine and his wife, Jackie, have four children. Two are in college and two are in elementary and middle school grades in Morgan County.

Omps said the board will meet in a special session Dec. 31 at 9 a.m. to name an interim superintendent. He said it probably will be someone already working in the district who can carry through with current programs to the end of the school year. The district has no assistant superintendent.

The board will post the vacancy for a permanent replacement immediately.

The board will act as its own recruitment committee, much like it did when Paine was hired, he said.

"We're glad to see the state get someone with Paine's qualifications. We believe he will continue to help Morgan County and every other county in the state," Omps said.

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