State Superintendent of Schools

Photo of James Phares James B. Phares

James B. Phares is West Virginia's 28th state superintendent of schools, assuming the role Jan. 2, 2013.

As superintendent, Phares oversees West Virginia's public school system, which includes 55 individual school districts, serving about 282,000 students in preschool through 12th grade with an operating budget in excess of $2.5 billion.

Phares, who has a doctorate in education administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, has nearly 40 years of experience as a classroom teacher, university instructor, principal, assistant principal and county superintendent.

A native of Elkins, he earned his bachelor's degree in elementary education at West Virginia University and a master's in school administration from Lynchburg College in Virginia. Phares has experience in West Virginia schools in Marion, Pocahontas and Randolph counties as well as university experience as an adjunct professor at WVU and Lynchburg College.

During his career, Phares has received multiple awards. In 2006, he was named the West Virginia Music Educator Superintendent of the Year. A year later, he was named the West Virginia Association of School Administrators, Superintendent of the Year, the Marion County Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year and a West Virginia Distinguished Mountaineer. He has been a national finalist for the American Association of School Administrators, Superintendent of the Year award and was inducted in 2009 to the WVU Department of Education and Human Resources Hall of Fame. Also, he was named the 2011 Educator of the Year by the Randolph County Chamber of Commerce.

Known for his in-depth knowledge of school personnel and operations garnered during 14 years as a county superintendent, Phares has earned a reputation for turning around troubled schools. He was hired by the Randolph Board of Education in 2009 after a report by the Office of Education Performance Audits outlined several deficiencies that could have led to a state board intervention. Phares helped lead the school system through the turmoil, and full accreditation was given to the system. He also helped spearhead an excess levy that passed in 2010, a first in Randolph County since 1989.

Since 2006, Phares has been a member of the Southern Regional Education Board Leadership Transformation Task Force for improving educational leadership in middle and high school programs. He also is a member of the West Virginia Leadership Standards Task Force for teachers, principals and superintendents as well as the West Virginia Rural Superintendents Initiative for the improvement of Superintendent Preparation Programs.

His experience includes a vast knowledge of school finance, including grants, Step 7, Title I, II, IV, special education and vocational funding. In addition, he has kept schools under his guidance on the cutting edge of technology. He continuously strives to make tools available for measuring student progress and deficiencies.

On the national level, Phares has participated in multiple national conferences on using technology for turning around schools and school systems, including the Southern Regional Education Board, National Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, National Reading Association, Ohio State Superintendents Conference, and the American Association of School Administrators Conference.

You may reach the superintendent at:

Superintendent's Interpretations Website

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