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ArlingtonFormer Superintendent Murphy departing W.Va. gig in June

Former Superintendent Murphy departing W.Va. gig in June

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Three years after announcing he was leaving his Arlington post for a similar job in West Virginia’s eastern panhandle, Patrick Murphy is retiring.

The former Arlington superintendent, who served for a decade before leaving in the summer of 2019 to head the Berkeley County (W.Va.) school district, has told that jurisdiction’s board of education he will be departing at the end of the current school year.

“I have very fond memories here of Berkeley County and what we have all been able to accomplish,” Murphy said in comments to the board of education reported by the Martinsburg Journal.

Murphy’s decision, coming a year before the end of his contract, seemed to catch some on the board of education off guard, the newspaper reported.

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(In Berkeley County, Murphy – who generally went by “Pat” in Arlington – had something he had not had locally: One of the county’s Board of Education members also was named Pat Murphy. In the West Virginia media, the superintendent became “Dr. Patrick K. Murphy” to differentiate him from the elected official.)

Murphy said he expects to stay until June 30 and help with the transition to new leadership in Berkeley, a county at the very far reaches of the Washington metropolitan area that has seen significant growth in recent years.

Murphy, then an administrator in the Fairfax County school system, was tapped to lead the Arlington system in July 2009, succeeding Robert Smith. His decade at the helm won him both fans and critics locally. At the national level, he in 2015 was a finalist for national superintendent of the year.

In announcing his plan to leave Arlington back in 2019, Murphy said that “I have come to a crossroad in my professional journey and believe that it is time for me to make a transition.”

When he arrived to lead the Arlington school system, it had 19,000 residents. By the time of his departure it had 27,000, and over the decade the school system had embarked on a building spree in an effort to catch up.

The start of the tenure of Murphy in 2009 was marked by the economic downturn, which caused the Arlington school system to tighten its financial belt somewhat, although the school system never fell out of the top ranking in regional per-student spending. In recent years, spending has again risen, and by the end of his tenure stood at $20,000 per student, a record for the region.

Upon Murphy’s departure from Arlington, veteran school administrator Cintia Johnson filled in as superintendent for the 2020-21 school year. In June 2021 the position was filled by Fairfax County Public Schools administrator Francisco Durán, who continues in the post today.

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