EAST LIVERPOOL - A Warren City Schools administrator with an extensive background in curriculum was chosen as the city school district's new superintendent during a special board of education meeting Thursday night.
Dr. Melissa Watson was granted a three-year contract from Aug. 1, 2014 through July 31, 2017, and the board also authorized a consulting contract for Watson from July 1-31 of this year, permitting her to serve as acting superintendent in the absence of outgoing Superintendent James Herring, who will be off the job, utilizing his vacation time.
Herring was not present at the meeting. His resignation is effective July 31.
Currently, Watson serves as teaching and learning director at Warren, and previously was curriculum director for the Trumbull County Educational Service Center after serving as a principal in the Warren district many years.
Watson earned her bachelor's degree in 1992 from Bowling Green State University, her master's in 1999 from Cleveland State University and her doctorate at Youngstown State University in 2012.
Her contract with the city school district includes a $100,000 annual salary the first year, increasing to $101,000 and then to $102,000 the next two years. Herring was earning the same salary, according to board President Janice Martin.
The consulting contract calls for a $384.62 per-day lump-sum payment and insurance benefits but not sick, vacation or personal leave, and she will work on an as-needed basis to be determined by the board president or designee.
The board chose Watson from nine candidates, voting unanimously in her favor, and Martin said after the meeting that Watson's strong background in curriculum was a plus, due to its importance to the district and the fact that the district currently has no curriculum director.
"It's a strong field she's involved in," Martin said, also referring to Watson's doctorate dissertation that focused on grandparents who are raising their grandchildren, which she said is a common practice in the school district, saying, "She understands that."
In addressing the crowd at last night's meeting, Watson said she was looking forward to the new post, saying, "I want to dig in and do the best job I can do. I'm proud to be a Potter. You just have so much potential. Thank you for your confidence in me. I won't let you down."
After the meeting, Watson said her first order of business will be getting to know the community, the teachers and the students, saying, "There is a sense of richness about this community. I feel the district is just ready to turn the corner into excellence. It seems they're right here and all my knowledge with curriculum will help make that happen."
Asked about the difference between Warren and the smaller East Liverpool district, Watson said, "Kids are kids. All kids deserve a quality education. Parents all want the same thing for their children."
She said parents will be invited and welcomed into the schools and said, "I want you to know I will expect to see your child treated and taught the same way I would want the special children in my life treated and taught."
Watson said she will commute to her new job from her home in Warren.
After the meeting, a small reception was held, prepared by food service Director Margie Wright.
The only other business acted upon at the special meeting was approval of student handbooks, with one change made to the junior-senior handbook Rule 3, which will now include the words "or aggression" under code of conduct, instead of just "assault."