Superintendent Receives New Contract and Big Raise

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Watertown Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald.

Charlie Breitrose

Watertown Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald.

Watertown Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald will be around for some time, and will receive a raised of more than $20,000 after the School Committee approved her new contract.

At Wednesday night’s School Committee meeting the board approved a five-year contract with a salary of $180,000 in the first year, which starts on July 1, 2015.

“I am honored to be superintendent in Watertown,” Fitzgerald said. “I promise to do my best for the students in the school district for the next five years.”

School Committee Chairwoman Eileen Hsu-Balzer said the contract is typical for school districts in the region.

“The salary range in this general geographic area, according to figures we have from the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, averages $187,568,” Hsu-Balzer said. “That figure is for FY14, so I think it we can correctly assume that’s gone up.”


The length of contracts have also gone up. Watertown has never given more than three years, noted Town Council President Mark Sideris, who also sits on the School Committee. He supported the contract.

“Sometimes when we do something new it is kind of scary,” Sideris said. “It is important to have a strong superintendent. We have someone in place who has done a lot of good things.”

School Committee member John Portz said he had mixed feelings, because he wants to have a contract that gives the superintendent a sense of stability, but he also wants to make sure she is responsive and accountable – which can be done with shorter contract. He too supported the deal.

Hsu-Balzer said many districts in Massachusetts have gone to longer contracts. According to the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents found 12 districts in the state have four year contracts, 20 were given five year contracts (seven of which are rolling contracts), and 12 superintendents have 6 year contracts.

Hsu-Balzer said in her five terms on the School Committee she has never seen a superintendent who has such a close relationship with her teachers and other staff.

Fitzgerald has made the transition from being interim superintendent to being the permanent hire, said School Committee member Michael Shepard. He has been impressed with the job she has done.

“We are locking her up like you would a great shortstop. It brings stability,” Shepard said.

School Committee member Julie McMahon gave a short but concise answer to why she supports Fitzgerald’s contract.

“I think we have the best superintendent for our community and I want to keep her here,” McMahon said.

The vote was unanimous to approve Fitzgerald’s contract.

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