School Superintendent Jerome Belair says making the decision to leave Weston was "the toughest" of his career." By all accounts, the legacy he leaves behind after five years in Weston is rock solid. Belair will take over the public schools in Waterford, which is 20 minutes from his home, compared to two hours for Weston.
"People have told me how shocked they were to hear the news," his said, speaking of his resignation . "I tell them I couldn't eat for three days before coming to a decision."
Belair said that he never went looking for a new position, but that he was approached by a search consultant several weeks ago regarding the post in Waterford. "One thing led to the next, and they presented me with an offer. For the next week I was in knots. ... By the end of the week I made the decision that was best for my family."
Belair's commute to Weston from his home in Groton Long Point was an issue even though he said it "has never bothered" him. He said in his new position he will be much closer to his grandson, who attends Westside Middle School.
"My wife and I want to be a part of his upbringing," he said. Belair has been married to his wife, Wendy, for 37 years, and the two have one son, Jason.
Belair took a 15 percent pay cut to be closer to his family. At Waterford he will earn $199,000 a year, he said. His current contract obliges him to give 90 days' notice, so his resignation is effective Feb. 4.
Ellen Uzenoff, vice chair of the Weston Board of Education, praised the outgoing superintendent for his dedication. "Several very difficult and complex issues have come to the table during his tenure," Uzenoff said in an email. "... [H]e has devoted endless energy to guide and assist the board and the schools. No one in the community can truly understand and appreciate the time and dedication and energy that the superintendent puts into his work, in any district, unless you work on a daily basis with that person."
Weston also left a positive impression on Belair. "This is a place that is truly supportive of public education. That's the toughest part of leaving."
The Weston BOE will meet on Monday, Nov. 15, to discuss a temporary replacement for Belair before beginning the process of hiring a full-time superintendent.
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