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McAuliffe Appoints Next Superintendent of Public Instruction

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Dr. Steven Staples Dr. Steven Staples

Virginia's newly appointed superintendent of public instruction, Dr. Steven Staples, will bring with him decades of experience when he begins his job May 1.

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the appointment Monday afternoon in Richmond.

Staples has done a little bit of everything. He has experience in the classroom, as the longtime superintendent of York County Schools, and most recently as the executive director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents.

Starting May 1, Staples will take on a new challenge, leading the Virginia Department of Education as the incoming superintendent of public instruction. Current Superintendent Patricia Wright, appointed under Governor Tim Kaine, announced her retirement earlier this month.

Staples says it's time for the state to take a hard look at the Standards of Learning tests, and find a way to fix failing schools

“There's a lot of work to do. It's time to review the two decades old accountability system we have in place to better align it with the needs of the 21st century,” said Staples.

Staples praised the work of state lawmakers, who passed reforms during the past General Assembly session to reduce the number of SOL tests in grades three through eight. Those reforms also included the creation of an innovation committee to oversee future changes to the SOLs.

Staples says he looks forward to further strengthening and improving the state's education accountability system.

Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe Press Release

Governor Terry McAuliffe on Monday announced the appointment of Steve Staples as Superintendent of Public Instruction. Staples, who most recently served as Executive Director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents, has dedicated his career to improving public education through innovative educational programs and by focusing on the specific needs of local communities.

“I am proud to announce that Steve Staples will serve as Virginia’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Steve has a deep understanding of Virginia’s strengths, its challenges, and the opportunities we have to take bold, innovative steps to improve schools in every corner of the Commonwealth. He has what it takes to drive Virginia’s public education system into the future.”

Staples added during the announcement, “These are important times for public education in the Commonwealth and I can assure you that it has become quite clear to me that the Governor and the team he has assembled care deeply about our public schools. We've got a lot of work ahead of us. It's time to review the two decades old accountability system to better align it with the needs of the 21st Century, and we need to encourage our schools to innovate and meet the changing expectations of workplace and society. I am ready to hit the ground running to tackle the challenges Virginia’s education system faces and ensure every Virginia student has access to quality public education.”

Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton stated, “I am excited to partner with Steve, a true education leader and innovator, and I look forward to the progress we will make over the next four years improving our education system and preparing our students with the tools and resources they need to succeed in a global economy. I want to thank everyone who offered input in this decision and I am grateful to the exceptional education interest and talent we have in the Commonwealth.”

Staples has served as the Executive Director of the Virginia Association of School Superintendents for nearly two years, during which time he has visited almost every school superintendent in the Commonwealth in his or her office, seeking to understand local perspectives and needs. Prior to that, he served on the faculty at William and Mary’s School of Education from 2008-2012. Previously, Staples was school superintendent in York County (serving 13,000 students) for 16 years, during which time York County was named by Money Magazine’s as one of the “Top 100 Best Buys in Public Education in the United States”. Staples implemented a variety of exemplary programs in York County, including magnet programs in fine arts and in math, science and technology, and a charter school program that links academic standards to licensure competencies in career/technical fields.

In 1997, Staples was selected by his peers as Virginia Superintendent of the Year. He received his Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Education at William and Mary and a Doctorate of Education in Administration and Supervision at Virginia Tech.

Staples joins the McAuliffe Administration on the heels of the release of the Governor’s proposed biennium budget for FY2015-FY2016, which closes the health care coverage gap and uses hundreds of millions in savings associated with that action to invest in key educational priorities including a 2% raise for teachers and other state employees across the Commonwealth.

“If members of our Senate and House of Delegates put politics aside and pass my proposed budget, we can begin Steve’s term as Superintendent on the strongest possible footing, with a budget that creates jobs, keeps families healthy, and honors our commitment to schools and students.”

Staples will replace Superintendent Pat Wright, who announced her retirement earlier this month. Wright was appointed Superintendent of Public Administration by Governor Tim Kaine in 2008 after serving nearly 30 years in the Department of Education.

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