Brooke makes a solid choice

Brooke County Board of Education members made a wise decision in hiring Jeffrey Crook as interim superintendent of schools. The choice is “an opportunity for a new beginning,” as Crook put it.

Bringing in a superintendent not formerly part of the school system was a near-necessity, in view of mistrust of the current hierarchy among some Brooke County residents.

State Department of Education officials say former Superintendent Toni Shute improperly accessed e-mails sent and received by a Marshall County teacher, Stacy Hooper, who also happens to be a Brooke County board member.

Coming on top of controversy regarding big pay raises for some school administrators, that forced Shute to resign.

Coincidentally, Crook served as Hooper’s boss while he was Marshall County’s superintendent. He resigned from that post after the board there refused to renew his contract.

But Crook’s evaluations by the Marshall County board were good. And, as Brooke County board President Theodore Pauls noted, Crook is highly qualified, “has a great reputation and is highly received by students, faculty and the public.”

Such support will be necessary if Crook is to get Brooke County schools back on an even keel.

What school board members are thinking in terms of hiring a permanent superintendent is unknown. For now, their primary concern is the fate of a tax levy to support Brooke County public schools. In effect for many years, the levy is up for renewal in a referendum this month. Defeat would be a crushing blow to the school system and, more important, to students.

Board members’ choice of Crook should help restore the trust some voters had lost in the school system — and how it spends taxpayers’ money.