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Harrisville superintendent to receive nearly $61,000 buyout


HARRISVILLE — Harrisville Central School District’s outgoing superintendent will receive nearly $61,000 as part of a contract buyout from the district.

Superintendent Rolf A. Waters is to receive a lump-sum payment of $60,765.50, will be paid for 25 unused vacation days and will continue to receive health insurance from the district by contributing 11 percent of the premium cost through the end of the year, according to a separation agreement signed Thursday by Mr. Waters and Board of Education President Jan T. Mosher.

“Thereafter the Superintendent shall be eligible for such benefits, at his expense, as are available through COBRA,” the agreement states.

The six-page agreement, obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request, also includes a clause stating that both parties “agree they will not make disparaging comments about the other party or this agreement.”

The superintendent’s current contract was slated to run through June 30, 2016.

The resignation of Mr. Waters, also the school’s elementary principal, officially takes effect June 30, but he has worked his last day and is using vacation time until then. High School Principal Robert N. Finster will serve as acting superintendent through that date. No decision about who will run the district as of July 1 has been made.

“During Mr. Waters’s 10 years of service with the district, much progress has been made in a number of different areas,” Mrs. Mosher said, reading from a prepared statement. “However, the future direction of the district requires different leadership at this time.”

The board president said the separation was deemed by both parties to be in their best interest. She declined to comment further, aside from noting that the past few months have been difficult.

The board has no immediate plans for securing a permanent replacement; that is expected to be discussed at coming meetings, Mrs. Mosher said.

Mr. Waters, Canton, who became superintendent here in July 2003 and whose contract was extended last summer, recently indicated that relations with the board had become strained and that some of his budgetary and tenure recommendations had been disregarded by board members. He could not be reached for further comment Friday.

Board members in fall 2009 decided to retain Mr. Waters when he was charged with, and ultimately convicted of, driving while intoxicated.

Community support — along with Mr. Waters’s honesty about the incident and prior performance — were factors cited by the board in choosing to keep him employed.

However, over the past couple of years, some community members have complained to the board about other supposed off-duty conduct problems, although Mr. Waters has not faced any other charges.

Complaints also stemmed from the 2010 hiring of Mr. Waters’s wife, Yvonne, as a reading teacher and Committee on Special Education chairwoman, even though Mrs. Waters was placed under the direct supervision of Mr. Finster.

More community members and parents apparently joined the ranks of the dissidents over the past year, and a photograph of Mr. Waters at a fraternity party reportedly was given to school board members recently.

Linda L. Hunter, a frequent speaker at board meetings and detractor of Mr. Waters, commended the board for buying out the superintendent.

“It had to be a very hard decision,” Mrs. Hunter said. “I really congratulate them on that.”

She also praised Mr. Finster, who is in his third year with the district, for taking an interest in the community.

“The key word in ‘community’ is ‘unity,’” states a quotation posted on the Harrisville district’s website.

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