Superintendent search begins 

With several looming fiscal issues facing the San Mateo Union High School District, the Board of Trustees began discussing how it will replace Superintendent Sam Johnson as he signs his retirement papers.

The board congregated Tuesday in a special session, one day after Johnson announced his retirement after three years at the post. As the board enters the early stages of soliciting search firms, the clear question became how much public input from teachers and parents the board will entertain.

Relations between teachers and the district have taken a hit after a tumultuous few years of budget cuts, layoffs and contract disputes. During his tenure, Johnson weathered considerable criticism and calls for his resignation.

Carlo Corti, speaking on behalf of the district’s Teachers’ Association, said students, teachers and parents should be included in the process.

"I agree that the selection of the superintendent is perhaps a board member’s most important job," he said. "We do, however, expect to have input in this decision … beyond a town hall meeting. Without knowing who the candidates are, it’s difficult to have an idea of which candidate would best serve the district."

Board members also discussed going so far as to solicit participants in the National School Boards Association Conference, taking place in San Francisco in two weeks.

"The superintendent search should be strongly board-driven," said boardmember Peter Hanley, who said he’d like to interview at least three search firms that specialize in education.

Johnson’s last day is June 29, but board president Robert Griffin said the process shouldn’t be hurried.

"We don’t necessarily need to rush to get someone in here for the sake of getting someone in here," Griffin said. "I don’t want a 20-person committee and I don’t want arguing."

bfoley@examiner.com

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