DeVono Hopes To Use Prior Experience In Gilmer County To Solve Problems In Randolph County

The Free Press WV

In the middle of declining revenue and population, staffing cuts, and the looming threat of a state takeover, the Randolph County Board of Education is hoping their choice for the county’s next Superintendent of schools will right the ship.

But that won’t be easy–and Gabriel Devono knows that.

“There’s some situations with personnel that we’ll have to look at,” the outgoing Gilmer County Superintendent said. “Maybe do some attrition or some vacancies that are there that we won’t hire back teachers, which will help us in personnel.”

That’s one of many difficult choices the new Randolph County Superintendent will face when he assumes that role on July 1 later this year. Outgoing Randolph County Superintendent Pam Hewitt already made recommendations for major staffing cuts, a majority of which were approved by the Board of Education last month, that could trim close to $875,000 off the budget.

But Devono is accustomed to difficult choices, he said. He joined the Gilmer County school system in 2014, appointed by the State Board of Education to try and steer Gilmer County back into local control.

“I came in 2014 and set four goals to myself and accomplished all four goals,” he said. “On January 9 of this year, they gave us control back, and that was the last goal.”

Devono has a long history in education. He spent 14 years in Virginia, but returned to West Virginia as an assistant principal in the early 2000’s. He served in a stint as assistant Superintendent in Lewis County before eventually taking over as the director of the state’s largest Regional Education Service Agency (R.E.S.A. 7). With a number of teachers in the family, a brother who is the Superintendent in Monongalia County, and a nephew on the Harrison County Board of Education, Devono said it was fair to call public education the “family business.”

“The big thing our parents always made sure that we had the education,” he said. “That’s one thing they always told us. They can take anything away from you, but they can’t take away your education from you. That’s something that my brother and I and my sister instilled within our kids.”

Unlike his time in Gilmer County, Devono hasn’t yet set a specific list of goals for his future in Randolph County. Rather, he wants to start by reviewing the budget and spending time with the school system’s most important resource: the staff.

“I told them in my interview, if you want a Superintendent that deals with text messages and e-mails then you don’t want me because I don’t like to sit behind a desk,” he said. “I want to be out supporting my staff and my teachers along with getting to know my kids.”

Randolph County faces a number of serious issues. The county failed to carry over the standard amount of cash reserves from the previous fiscal year. Mixed with serious damage to Homestead Elementary School, voters failing to pass a levy on three different occasions in less than 12 months, and the overall declining enrollment, budgetary concerns reign supreme.

“I’ll look at the budget,” Devono said. “I’ll work with Brad Smith there. He’s an excellent treasurer and see where we need to go and how we can do some cuts.”

His experience in Gilmer County in bringing the school back to local control is one potential asset he can bring to Randolph County. But, he said, the other asset he’ll bring is his penchant for transparency.

“I went out in the community,” Devono said. “I had community meetings and got to know the people in the community and always kept them abreast. That’s something that I feel like I need to do when I get to Randolph County too.”

Devono said he expects to begin a tour of the school system next month.

~~  Alex Wiederspiel ~~

Sadly this gent lives in some alternate universe?
Claims to be transparent?  BS Does not know the meaning of the word.

Going to work with his new employer on finance?  He sure didn’t work with the board in Gilmer County on finance.  They could not even get a simple school equipment inventory listing.
Never mind financial info.

Even after repeated requests to Charleston from his handlers. 

The honeymoon in Randolph will be short.  The spots will show through in six months.  Hewitt will start looking good again.

Comment by L.L. Pantsafire  on  05.13.2017

It is difficult to express how to feel about Gabriel’s departure.  But one thing can be said, he knows how to blow his own horn.

Given that on every occasion he informed the OEPA that Gilmer was not ready for return of control.
Given there are many, many video tapes of meetings where Board members begged for transparency, accountability and honesty from his office.
Given that Gilmer County had a 2 million dollar surplus at the start of intervention which no longer exists and is now a million in debt.
Given Devono’s multiple statements in the newspapers and public meeting insisting Gilmer’s Board should extend his contract.
And given the only way jobs were saved at the end of his time here was for the Gilmer County Board of Education having the backbone to say NO to his “penchant” for RIF without reason.


Comment by Gilmer's Truth Set Him Free  on  05.14.2017

If he’s not in the office and you can’t get him by email or text you might find him at the golf course with your transportation director or you might not find him at all.  At least that’s been the Gilmer experience.
Or, he might be watching your county truck haul a pool filter. Find the truth of who winds up with it. If you need pictures they’re around. Not everyone approves corruption.
Hard to tell you Randolph, what perk do you have to keep him busy?  Maybe a spa package at the lodge that never ends? 
Better buy a couple black trench coats. Flunkies required to dress to match.  Will soon find a couple of your office employees no longer stay in the office because this one is afraid to travel alone.Watch for three black crows entering your school buildings. It is the signature move.
Teachers and staff, get ready. The truth is not in your new super.

Folks here recognize who wrote this narcissistic claptrap.

Comment by AW SHUCKS ON YOU  on  05.14.2017


Comment by WEINERSPEIL, WORDS FAIL US  on  05.14.2017

Gilmer County wanted you to go out the door with a whisper. Just keep still and let him go was the word. Let him tell them what he wants to believe. And that’s how it was going.
Now he uses this free press to exit with fabrication and seeking personal glory for what was done here in the name of intervention?
Listen up Randolph County, the only community Gabe Denono ever talked to here is the one that runs the town.You’ll get the same thing.
Read the exit report of the WVOEPA.  He did not bring us back to local control.  Our board fought for it.
This is the man who was going to sue the State Board if they didn’t give him a two year contract.

You can tell how much he thinks of you by how your financial plight is laid out here for all to know. There’s 13 county school systems under fund balance watch right now. The State Board will have no interest in taking over a broke county and yet he threatens you.

Bad enough the local paper has spread his and the BBB (Bill- Bo Buddies) lies. Does he expect the voice of free people, the GFP, to do that too?

When this guy Gabe goes on his tour of your county next month, does he expect to be paid by our district to go tour yours? Whose going to mind the store?  Nothing new about that but you will get used to it.

Comment by Luck and Love to Randolph BOE  on  05.14.2017

Alex Weiderspiel has been “used” by Superintendent User.  The list is long of Gilmer people who also got drawn in.  Now it appears Randolph will be added to the list of victims?

Comment by Randolph Gets Hot Potato  on  05.15.2017

Gilmer County is positioned for a new start for our school system.

We have suffered badly from raw politics, betrayal, back door deals, control by the elites, and harmful effects from conflicts of interest.

We need the highest quality administrator we can get to take over for a fresh start to never again permit what the County experienced during intervention.

GCBOE, it is up to you now. Keep ugly politics and other side issues out of it. If you do you will get firm backing of Gilmer County to include better chances of us voting for more money to fund the schools.

Comment by Citizens Want GCBOE To Do Its Job  on  05.15.2017

The GCBOE has members with tight ties to some school system employees.

When decisions of any kind are being made which involve those employees the community expects board members in those situations to remove themselves from all involvement.

Appearances and public perceptions are important and the community expects the highest of standards to be followed for ways school board business is conducted.

Is this an unreasonable expectation for elected officials who are supposed to have the public’s trust?

Comment by Nuff Said  on  05.15.2017

So long as board members aren’t taking a profit renting their real estate to the superintendent or raking it in by selling their various wares to employees. And, so long as they don’t vote illegally to hire somebody and follow the policies of the WVDE, THIS Gilmer board is doing just fine.

Comment by More Than Nuff Said  on  05.16.2017

Conduct may not be technically illegal, but it could be unethical to fail the WV common sense smell test.

Good tests for anything going on would be being comfortable with reading about the details in the Charleston Gazette and getting an OK from the WV Ethics Commission.

One of the most common causes of ethical problems is when disgruntled job applicants file complaints after information leaks.

An ounce of prevention is always worth more that a pound of cure.

Comment by Charleston DOE Employee  on  05.16.2017

What does not pass the WV Common Sense “Smell Test” is any employee basing a complaint on a one sided, sputtering, “leaker” with an ax to grind.  Always good advice to remember the court house door swings both ways.

Gilmer County employees are pretty wise folk and generally do not like being pulled into personal, panic mode nonsense. Don’t know how it works in Charleston.

So easy to get an opinion from an ethics commission attorney these days. Just a click of the mouse. Would not doubt responses to any question or accusation, no matter how uninformed,how ridiculous, are in the works.

Comment by We've Been Threatened By Professionals  on  05.16.2017
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