Douglas County School District Superintendent takes job in San Mateo |

Douglas County School District Superintendent takes job in San Mateo

Jill Darby

After nine years with the Douglas County School District, Superintendent Pendery Clark announced Tuesday she is leaving.

Clark accepted a contract offer from the San Mateo-Foster City School District and will become superintendent there effective Nov. 1.

The San Mateo-Foster City School District Board of Trustees embarked on a six-month, national search before selecting Clark to replace Richard Damelio, who was superintendent for 12 years. Clark will be introduced to her new board Thursday, at which time her contract will be approved officially.

Clark said she looks forward to being closer to her family, which has lived in the Bay area throughout her career with Douglas County.

“That was the major factor in the decision,” she said. “When I started with (Douglas County School) district in 1992, I only had one grandchild. Now I have eight. I really look forward to being more a part of their lives. Of course, my husband lives in the Bay area so we’ve been making that trek, him coming here, me going there, for the last nine years. At this point in my life and my professional career, it’s important to me to be close to my family so the San Mateo opportunity is really exciting for me.”

The San Mateo district’s student population is about 10,500, while Douglas County’s enrollment is approximately 7,000.

Throughout her tenure in Douglas County, Clark was largely responsible for the implementation of a strategic plan which culminated in the development of a competency-based system. The system is aimed at aligning curriculum, standards and assessments in support of higher standards for graduating students.

Maintaining professional development, small class sizes, hiring excellence and high test scores were other accomplishments attributed to Clark in a press release distributed Tuesday.

However, teachers often expressed concern with her administrative practices.

Many voiced disdain last year, when the Douglas County school board approved a one-year contract extension for Clark, shortly before the November election for new board members.

Dissatisfaction with administration and claims of a rubber stamp school board were the focus of many highly publicized teacher pickets in Douglas County throughout the past couple of years.

“It has always been problematic for me that a district that’s been on the cutting edge of reform has had such difficulty in its personnel relations,” Douglas County Professional Education Association President Marty Cronin said Tuesday. “Hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to address those concerns and to improve teacher morale with the coming of a new superintendent.”

Cronin said despite frustrations toward district administration, he wishes Clark well.

“She’s brought a lot of constructive and progressive ideas to the district and I hope we don’t lose sight of some of the good things that have come to the district through her leadership,” Cronin said.

Clark did not acknowledge any suggestion of “bad blood” between Douglas County’s district and teachers. When asked if she feared a similar situation in San Mateo-Foster City, she replied:

“All I know is there are challenges in every school district and I’m sure there will be challenges in San Mateo-Foster City, but I also know there will be some wonderful professional opportunities and I’m really looking forward to being part of such a progressive school district.”

Clark did not comment as to who will replace her for the remainder of the school year, but she said she will recommend someone at the Sept. 11 school board meeting at Kingsbury Middle School.

“I haven’t gotten all of that together yet but it will be on our agenda and our agenda will be public,” she said.

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