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Tomblin appoints former state delegate to school board

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has appointed outgoing Greenbrier County legislator Tom Campbell as the newest member of the state Board of Education. The governor made the announcement Monday afternoon.

"I've worked with Tom for many years, and I'm pleased he will be joining the state Board of Education," Tomblin said in a news release. "I am confident, with his vast knowledge and experience, Tom will be a tremendous asset to our State Board."

Campbell, 51 and a Democrat, has served 16 years in the House of Delegates but decided not to run for re-election this year. He said he is excited to step into his new spot on the board.

"I think it's a critical time in the state right now to take a real good look at our education system," Campbell said in a phone interview.

"And I think that's all the way to pre-K and ... college as well, to make sure our students have the best chance they can to be successful for life."

Campbell is currently vice chairman of the House Finance Committee, but he chaired the education committee in 2005 and 2006. He also has helped represent West Virginia on the Southern Regional Education Board since 2005.

"I've been looking at education one way or another for 16 years," Campbell said.

In November the state Board of Education fired Superintendent Jorea Marple in a surprise action that wasn't placed on a public agenda in advance of the meeting. The move drew criticism and legal questions, and the board eventually decided to meet and fire her again.

Board members also recently issued a response to a massive audit of the state education system. The audit recommends more than 50 measures the auditors believe could save the state millions while helping the system run more effectively and efficiently.

Campbell said he knew only what he had read in media accounts of recent board action. He did say the new position would be challenging.

"I'm not going to focus on whatever the board has been doing the past few weeks," Campbell said. "We just don't have enough young people in West Virginia getting what they need to be successful. That's my focus."

Campbell graduated from West Virginia University in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He is a certified public account and chief financial officer of Carson Associates Inc. in Lewisburg. He lives there with his wife, the Rev. Susan Sharp Campbell, pastor at Frankford Presbyterian Church.

Campbell said he chose not to seek another term in the House for business reasons and because he wanted to be closer to his mother as she gets older.

Serving on the board will allow Campbell to continue with public service but still spend more time at home, he said.

Campbell is replacing Lowell Johnson, whose term expired Nov. 4. The board consists of nine members, and each is appointed to a nineyear term. Appointments are submitted to the state Senate for confirmation.

Board President Wade Linger said he was excited for Campbell to join the board.

"I think it's a very exciting time for him, with the agenda we have in front of us," Linger said. "It's great to have the board back up to a full complement of members."

Campbell said he would try to make it to the board's Wednesday meeting. Members are expected to hire a new superintendent. Chuck Heinlein, a deputy state superintendent under Marple, currently holds the position.

The board has expressed the desire to hire a different person to be the "short-term" superintendent while it conducts a national search for Marple's replacement.

The board meets at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Hamlin.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or Follow him at _Boucher1.



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