Missy Neumire, a teacher in the Waterloo Central School District says she’s never been happier to go to work. She credits Superintendent Terri Bavis, who was hired as the district’s first female leader.
Now a contract dispute has that in jeopardy. Over the weekend, the Board of Education responded, but not before an outpouring of support was displayed for Bavis.
On Thursday Bavis said in an email to staff that she was seeking other opportunities, and was expected to be announced as a finalist for one of those opportunities on Friday. “My primary interest is to remain in Waterloo long term,” she said in that email – obtained from a teacher who voiced their frustration with the lack of progress on a new contract. “I was notified today that the names of the finalists will be released on Friday, May 25th. At that point, my candidacy will not be confidential. I hope that we can come to an agreement on my contract before then so I am not faced with the difficult decision of leaving Waterloo,” Bavis continues in that email to the district. “I would not want the staff to hear this news from someone else. It is important to me that the staff hear the message from me, but I wanted to let you know,” she concluded.
“The last two with Terri Bavis made me feel as though I was in a completely different district. In fact, the first year I cried,” Neumire said in the video. “We felt empowered and supported like we never have before.” Neumire is a 21 year veteran in the district, who said that the atmosphere and work environment developed by Bavis was like nothing she’d experienced in the past.
On Friday, Neumire added the following in a statement via email to FingerLakes1.com:
“As stated in a Finger Lakes Times article, the WCSD school board voted 7-1, in January to extend the contract of Superintendent, Terri Bavis. She has yet to receive that signed extension. Given the uncertainty of her position here, at WCSD, she began seeking employment elsewhere and has been notified that she is a finalist in at least one other district. Being the true professional that she is, she first notified the school board personally, and then the entire staff. The teachers, administrators, and the community as a whole are devastated at the thought of losing a leader who has been the driving force behind numerous initiatives, and an overall shift to positive thinking. Mrs. Bavis has told the board that she wants to stay in Waterloo and would withdraw her name from consideration for other positions should the board sign her extension. Numerous phone calls and emails have been sent to board members imploring them to act swiftly and responsibly in favor of Mrs. Bavis, as that is the message that the community, who elected them, is calling for.”
Faculty and staff assembled on Thursday afternoon to show their support for Bavis. In the video, staff speak to the positive changes that have happened in the district since taking the role as superintendent. “We support you,” Neumire concluded, which was a sentiment echoed by dozens of teachers in attendance on Thursday.
On Saturday, the Board of Education released the following statement:
“The Board of Education has received the communication from Superintendent Bavis notifying the board and staff that she has been interviewing for positions in other school districts. The board has also heard from students, parents, and staff showing their support for Superintendent Bavis. The Board of Education is very appreciative of all the work that Superintendent Bavis has performed on behalf of the Waterloo Central School District. The superintendent’s current contract is valid through June 30, 2019. Unfortunately, the board is not able to comment on any personnel matters publicly. The board wants to thank you all for understanding and continued support for the Waterloo Central School District.”
Footage Courtesy of Duprey Video Productions