By WENDY HOLDREN
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts Secretary Gayle Manchin said she feels this role as cabinet secretary has allowed her to come full circle.
“Becoming cabinet secretary was really like coming full circle, bringing together so many interests and work I’ve done over the years,” Manchin shared Friday with the Senate Confirmations Committee.
She told the senators she hopes to foster a better understanding throughout the state for what the Department of Education and the Arts actually does.
Because the office has “education” in its title, she said many people believe the department is associated with K-12 education.
“It’s not. Education in Arts is about education from birth to death — a lifelong learning experience we can gain through culture, history, the arts … and how that enriches and empowers the lives of citizens of all ages across the state.”
One senator asked her to address how she’s handling her role with respect to the state’s financial crisis. Manchin told the committee part of her responsibility is how to be part of the solution.
When she took office, she looked at how to possibly repurpose and restructure. She said she found that many tasks could be completed with fewer employees. She also asked the six agencies she oversees to conduct similar examinations.
For further cost savings measures, Manchin said with the exception of the state rehab center, the agencies will be moving from rented spaces into the buildings owned by Education and the Arts — the Cultural and History building and the West Virginia Public Broadcasting building. The state rehab center cannot move due to federal guidelines, she noted.
She told the committee not only are the agencies sharing space, but also personnel in some instances.
“Challenging times force us to be more creative in our thinking.”
She said she believes her office provides a “prominent, critical role” for the state, and she said she does not believe any personal or financial issues would preclude her from maintaining her job as secretary.
The Senate Confirmations Committee also interviewed Cheryl Schreiber, a Wheeling native slated as a member of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine Board of Governors through June 2020.
Schreiber, who has a degree in business from West Liberty State College, currently works as a CPA. She said she’s been involved with the School of Osteopathic Medicine nearly since its inception, as her husband was a student in the first class there.
One senator questioned her about potential financial conflicts as a board member. Schreiber disclosed that her husband, as a physician, receives a stipend from the school when he acts as a preceptor for WVSOM students.
She said the stipend is roughly $750 per student.
Her husband received $2,000 in 2016 for his work as a preceptor and $1,500 in 2015. Schreiber said she did not believe such a minimal amount would cause conflict.
Another senator asked her about her vision for the school.
“As far as I’m concerned, our school is a shining star,” Schreiber said, noting the school’s great ratings, and the wonderful job the school does in bringing physicians to rural areas of the state.
“My vision would be to let the school continue on the path it is.”
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