"The state board has never had a support staff, other than Virginia [Harris, the board's secretary]," Linger said. Harris works on a salary of about $65,500 -- nearly $10,000 more than she made in 2007, according to state records.
"I'm a little perplexed at why anyone would question the need for the state Board of Education to have staff," Linger said. "The board is responsible for the education of 282,000 kids, 720 schools and a $2.2 billion yearly budget, and we have no staff. Seeing the kind of responsibility the board has under the state Constitution, I think it's strange the board never has had staff."
Linger said board members are "basically part-time volunteers that have other jobs."
Peduto's job duties will be to "help us with the implementation [of the audit] and the kinds of things that the board is doing now that we're stepping up and doing more," Linger said. "All this really did was create a slot that's actually under the board, and cleans up the way the position is posted. There's no difference."
Linger said he's "a little resentful" of the things said about the board by opponents of the governor's bill, and said people need to read it thoroughly and "understand what it actually says.
"There were times along the way where we heard that the bill takes away [teacher] holidays -- it never did that. They said we were taking away planning periods -- that was never part of the agenda -- but those people aren't being called liars," Linger said.
"If there's anything that's disappointed me about this process, it's that this board has been respectful of the teachers and teacher organizations throughout the entire process . . . but coming from the other side, there's name-calling and all these accusations that the administration isn't acting in good faith. For some reason, everybody except the teachers in this thing are not acting in good faith."
Phares said he stands behind the education bill and denies that he's had "a heavy hand" in it.
"We're in support of the governor's bill," he said. "We have been -- it makes sense and it's good for kids."
Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.m...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.