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Clark says district can handle changes

MINDEN – After more than a quarter century with the Douglas County School District, John Soderman may get a shot at the big chair.

An assistant superintendent, Soderman may get to run the district until the end of the 2001-02 school year.

Outgoing superintendent Pendery Clark gave Soderman her blessing on Friday.



“He has a really good sense of what’s going on and what’s on the plate,” she said. “He’s an excellent person to continue the year and get everything off to a good smooth start.”

Clark said she is confident Douglas schools will continue to do good work.




While the appointment of a replacement is up to the trustees, Clark said Soderman is qualified to be the district’s superintendent.

“He’s certainly very well qualified,” she said. “I’ve worked closely with him and have a great deal of respect for him.”

Clark said Soderman has an even-handed approach to handling problems.

Soderman has been assistant superintendent of educational services since 1996. He served as principal of CC Meneley Elementary School before that.

He took over for Bev Pine, who became principal of Douglas High School.

Soderman was an original member of the 19-member steering committee, and has been involved in the strategic plan process since its grassroots days. As a principal, he has witnessed its effect on schools and looks forward to broadening that perspective on a district-wide basis.

Pendery Clark said she is leaving Douglas County schools on a “good road” and is confident the district can handle implementation of its controversial competency program.

Clark will resign after nine years as Douglas County superintendent effective Oct. 31.

Speaking Friday from the Bay area, one day after receiving a four-year contract from the San Mateo-Foster City School District that will pay her $142,000 annually, Clark said she looks forward to meeting the various people at the district’s 20 schools.

Clark said she must hire four new administrators in San Mateo, but the district is “running pretty smoothly.”

Clark will replace Superintendent Rick Damelio, who is retiring after 12 years. He announced his resignation in February.

Clark said she is proud of Douglas County’s competency program and said it probably helped her land the job in San Mateo. California’s high schools are moving to an assessment-based system and the board wanted someone with experience in implementing a plan to ensure students can handle the testing and assessments, Clark said.

Clark said she will focus on aligning the district’s direction toward the state standards. She also will be responsible for updating the district’s strategic plan.

Despite recent difficulties, Clark said the district has a solid reputation in California.

“I want to see what the district’s doing well and really get to know the district,” she said.

And that will take time. Clark estimated it took almost three years to get to know all the teachers in Douglas County.

The Douglas County School District Board of Trustees is meeting today at 3:30 p.m. at Kingsbury Middle School. Agenda items include the recommendation of John Soderman for interim superintendent, a re-recommendation of Cissy Tucker and Mario Gatto, and revision to the criteria for distribution of employee bonuses.


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