CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One month after Gayle Manchin was chosen as president of the West Virginia Board of Education, the state Department of Education is reorganizing its office space -- including a new office for the school board president for the first time in at least a decade.
The state school board president has never had his or her own office, but space in the board conference room in Capitol Complex Building 6 has always been considered office space for the president, according to Liza Cordeiro, spokeswoman for the Department of Education.
For the first time, plans for "more of a true, real office" for the president are in the works, Cordeiro said.
Additional office space for Manchin -- wife of Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who appointed her to the board when he was governor -- as well as office space for board staffers Donna Peduto and Virginia Harris will be cleared on the sixth floor of Building 6 in the near future.
Harris is the board's longtime secretary. Peduto was hired as a $350-a-day consultant a year ago to help board members respond to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's education audit. In March, she was hired as the board's first-ever director of operations, at an annual salary of $104,000.
"Securing office space in Building 6 is not about power, but instead it is about assuming a more visible role in our responsibility and accountability as a board in developing good policy that the [Department of Education] implements to improve student achievement," Gayle Manchin said through a spokeswoman Friday.
Since taking the spot as president, Manchin has talked about accountability and responsibility, saying the role of the board had devolved into something it wasn't designed to be.
Her predecessor as board president, Wade Linger, also has recently expressed a need for a clearer distinction between the Board of Education and the Department of Education.