WARREN - Warren City Schools' director of teaching and learning has been named the new superintendent of the East Liverpool School District.
During a board meeting Thursday night, the East Liverpool Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of hiring Melissa Watson, 44, who is in her third year in her current position at Warren. She had previously served as principal of Roosevelt, Lincoln and Devon Elementary schools for more than five years.
Watson called the move a great opportunity and said she has high expectations and high hopes.
"I want to be in a district making a difference in the lives of children, and there's a lot of potential there. Academically they're right on the cusp of moving forward, and it's a different challenge in my career," she said.
Her three-year contract with East Liverpool includes a $100,000 annual salary the first year, increasing to $101,000 and then to $102,000 the next two years.
Outgoing Superintendent James Herring was earning the same salary, according to board President Janice Martin.
The East Liverpool board also authorized a consulting contract for Watson from July 1 to 31, permitting her to serve as acting superintendent while Herring uses his vacation time. The consulting contract calls for a $384.62 per-day lump-sum payment
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.
The board chose Watson from nine candidates, voting unanimously in her favor.
"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."
Watson said she has always had the idea of becoming superintendent in the back of her mind, and obtained her doctorate a few years ago in order to achieve that goal.
"I wanted to lead a district, one that would be a good fit, and I definitely feel that with East Liverpool. They have a very strong community. Academically, there's just so much potential, and I feel like my current experience can really push them over the line and move them forward," she said.
But Watson said she will miss the children and the families she's worked with in Warren, as well as her staff.
Watson's resignation will be the third this month. Last week, the board accepted the resignations of Superintendent Michael Notar and Board of Education Vice President Rhonda Baldwin-Amorganos.
The board has 30 days from her resignation to fill Baldwin-Amorganos' seat. Notar, who was named the superintendent of Conneaut Area Schools, will begin his new position on Aug. 1.
Board member Robert Faulkner Sr. said Watson will be missed.
"I think she's well qualified and ... that's like anything else, you get an opportunity to do that, you do it. It's a bigger position than being a director. I just wish her well because I'm always happy when people can do what they want to do," he said.
Faulkner said he isn't sure what will happen with regard to the new vacancy and that many personnel discussions lie ahead for the board. However, the only positions the board will hire are the board member and superintendent. After that, it is up to the superintendent to make personnel recommendations, including the director of Teaching and Learning.
"We base the approval on their recommendations," he said.
In the meantime, the board is working on a transition plan for a new superintendent, he said.
The Morning Journal in Lisbon contributed to this story.