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Gov. Jim Justice appointed to the West Virginia Board of Education in November an educator who still leads a center that’s largely funded by the major agency that the board oversees: the state Department of Education.

Stan Maynard is the executive director of the June Harless Center for Rural Education Research and Development. He previously was a professor for 35 years in Marshall University’s College of Education. His wife, Barbara Maynard, is the center’s chief of staff.

When contacted by the Gazette-Mail Wednesday about the Department of Education’s funding, he said that soon he and Barbara will retire from the June Harless Center.

Maynard said none of his salary is paid by the Department of Education’s grants to the center.

He declined to say how much Barbara is paid by the department, though the department’s spokeswoman said Barbara is paid “$13,000 annually to lead all aspects of the June Harless Center’s responsibilities surrounding the West Virginia Early Literacy Network of Support, to include both the state’s early literacy campaign and the West Virginia Imagination Library Program.”

Imagination Library is the program that annually distributes free books to children. It’s supported by the Dollywood Foundation, created by country music icon Dolly Parton, and state and federal funds.

State school board members serve nine-year terms. They are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

They routinely start serving and voting on the board, as Maynard has, in the interim between their appointment and their Senate confirmation or rejection.

This year’s regular legislative session ends Saturday of next week, so Maynard could be confirmed or rejected by senators before then. Senate spokeswoman Jacque Bland said Wednesday that the Senate hasn’t yet officially received from the governor the list of nominations to consider.

Maynard said Wednesday that, since joining the board, he hasn’t used his position to procure further funding for the center, nor has current or past funding influenced his votes. He also said he and his wife had been planning to retire June 30 from their positions at the center.

He also said he previously informed the Department of Education and the dean of the Marshall University College of Education and Professional Development, which the center is affiliated with, of these impending retirements. 

Teresa Eagle, dean of the university's College of Education and Professional Development, said in an email on Friday that she couldn't comment on personnel issues, but that "they have kept me full informed of their plans."

He said he already backed away from overseeing work in counties “because I knew this kind of scrutiny would come up.”

“We do nothing that helps the department per se,” Maynard said. “We are just a resource that facilitates what a county needs, and then we help them in that regard.”

“The only thing we’re able to do is working with counties that are struggling and we’ve done it for 21 years,” he said.

The state board hires, fires and oversees the state superintendent, who controls the Department of Education’s day-to-day operations. But that board, at least publicly, doesn’t generally get into many department details, like grants to different agencies.

From fiscal year 2015-16 through last fiscal year, the June Harless Center received a majority of its funding each year from the Department of Education. That’s the main agency overseen by the state board and the state schools superintendent.

  • In 2015-16, it received about $775,000 from the Department of Education.
  • In 2016-17, it received $1.2 million.
  • In 2017-18, it received $950,000.
  • In 2018-19, it received $1.5 million.
  • In 2019-20, it received $2 million.

Other funding includes grants from some county school systems that the state school board has a part in overseeing.

Marshall University, which hosts information about the center on its website, provided these figures in response to an open records request.

The Department of Education said $1.1 million “has been granted” to the Center for the current fiscal year, 2020-21, but it was unclear Thursday whether that still represents a majority of the Center’s funding.

Christy Day, spokeswoman for the Department of Education, wrote in an email that “no new grants have been awarded” to the Center since Maynard’s appointment, and only $217,000 has been paid out of this fiscal year’s grants so far.

“The early literacy campaign partnership between the WVDE [West Virginia Department of Education] and the June Harless Center has been in place since 2015, with the addition of the partnership between WVDE and Imagination Library in 2018 due to the fact that Imagination Library is a cornerstone of the school readiness component of the state’s early literacy system,” Day wrote.

Reach Ryan Quinn at ryan.quinn@wvgazettemail.com, facebook.com/ryanedwinquinn,

304-348-1254 or follow

@RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

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