WEST Virginia's system of public education is expensive and ineffective. State taxpayers are the second poorest in the nation, but beat the national average in spending per student.
Results are another matter. Education Week just gave state schools another "F" in achievement.
An audit found West Virginia's school system highly overregulated and bureaucratic at the state level.
The West Virginia Board of Education has stood tall in trying to change that. The Legislature is on the verge of approving long-overdue reforms.
Unfortunately, in creating and filling a "director of operations" position for itself, the state school board handed ammo to the opponents of change.
"It kind of makes laughable their statements that they're going to downsize the state Department of Education where there is all this heavy bureaucracy," said Judy Hale, president of the state chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. "You can't downsize by upsizing."
Hale failed to mention that the state Department of Education, which is supposed to report to the board, was less than helpful when the board wanted to craft a response to an audit released in January 2012.
In August, tired of the delay, the board brought in Donna Peduto on a temporary basis. The board has now hired her permanently.
Board President Wade Linger said the board oversees the education of 282,000 kids in 720 schools. It spends $3.2 billion a year.
"I'm a little perplexed at why anyone would question the need for the state Board of Education to have staff," Linger told the Daily Mail's Shay Maunz.
"With the kind of responsibility the state board has under the constitution, I think it's strange that the board has never had staff before."
The public understands board members' frustration. But if this hiring, at this time, gets in the way of reform legislation, it was a misstep.
The board does have a staff - the Department of Education. New state School Superintendent Jim Phares should make sure the department provides that service.