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Town needs to keep moving forward with school district

At the beginning of the month, the Connecticut Department of Education announced it had reached a settlement with Winchester Superintendent of Schools Anne Watson.

Watson, who was hired in July 2014, was suspended from work in August 2015 after the state took receivership of the district.

Former Winchester School District Receiver Robert Travaglini said at the time that Watson would be suspended pending an investigation of “performance concerns.”

In response, Watson filed a lawsuit against the Winchester Board of Education, and made various claims and complaints in the suit filing.

In the court settlement, Watson will receive the rest of the salary she was supposed to receive under her contract, which ends June 30.

She will also receive attorney fees and a lump sum payout for accrued vacation and paid sick time.

Considering that Watson was suspended in August 2015 and has not worked a day for the school district since then, it is quite understandable if some residents are upset that she will continue to be paid for not working for the district.

It is also understandable if some residents are upset that there is no true resolution to this case.

Travaglini never filed a report with the state or town about his investigation into Watson’s performance concerns and there was no true follow up to Watson’s claims and complaints.

Unfortunately, a legal settlement does not mean a true public resolution to problems and concerns about Watson’s tenure.

Despite all of this, the town needs to keep moving forward with the school district and keep past results in mind when moving towards the future.

In an interview with The Winsted Journal, current Winchester School District Receiver Freeman Burr promised that, while the hiring decision for a new superintendent will be made solely by himself, both residents and members of the Board of Education would have input in the decision.

Hopefully he will keep this in mind as he goes through applicants for the position.

Burr’s term as the school district’s receiver is scheduled to come to an end in August, along with the state’s receivership of the school district.

He needs to keep in mind that any superintendent will be taking over all facets of the school district and will not have the resources of the state, whether it be financial or organizational, to rely on for a continuous basis.

Burr also needs to keep in mind the past mistakes the Board of Education has made in hiring a new superintendent.

With that, and considering that in the past several school district officials have complained that the starting salary for the superintendent is too low, it might be advisable to have the starting salary for the new superintendent be appropriate for someone who has extensive experience in serving as a superintendent of a school district.

The position of a Winchester School District superintendent should not be used as a mere stepping stone for a position at other school districts.

It should be a position filled by a superintendent who has extensive knowledge and background of the state’s educational system, including its inner workings, curriculum, teacher plans and all.

While some might disagree loudly about having a higher salary for the school district’s superintendent, one must remember that this is an investment in student education, which is the future of our town.