CHARLESTON - The West Virginia Board of Education named W. Clayton Burch as the next state superintendent of schools during its June meeting Wednesday.


Burch, who currently serves in the capacity of State Superintendent, is a 13-year employee of the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE).


Burch is the former deputy superintendent of the WVDE and was appointed to the state superintendent’s position in February of this year upon the retirement of Dr. Steven L. Paine.


Burch was soon faced with the statewide school closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and was required to lead the school system through a series of significant challenges.


Following Governor Jim Justice’s directive that children must continue to be fed, Burch led efforts to organize mass, statewide meal distributions within 48-hours of the closure. Along with county offices, the WVDE and state partners provided 1.4 million meals each week to West Virginia children during the school year, and meals will continue to be available to children in need until school resumes in August.


The WVBE issued a statement as part of its evaluation of the superintendent:


“The Board wishes to state that it has completed its evaluation of Superintendent Burch pursuant to W. Va. Code §18-3-1 and state that we are very pleased with Superintendent Burch’s performance since his initial appointment on Feb. 21.


“At that time, we had no idea that we would be facing the overwhelming challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on public schools. We recognize that Superintendent Burch has faced these challenges head on, and has provided valuable leadership and guidance to the State Board, the Department of Education, and the education community as a whole.”


“I am humbled and honored to serve as the State Superintendent of Schools,” Burch said. “My tenure, thus far, has been among the most pivotal times of my life, and the partnerships we have formed have allowed us to continue to serve the children of West Virginia in a seamless manner.


“My service in this role began with the pandemic and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to continue to work with the State Board, county superintendents, our educators and service personnel, and the dedicated people at the WVDE to support our children and families at this time.”


Moving forward, Burch has outline three priorities to guide student support as the pandemic continues to evolve in the state: social-emotional well-being; access and equity to technology; and overall academic achievement.


“These key areas touch all aspects of our work and we must keep them at the forefront,” Burch said.