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High school district OKs new contracts
September 29, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Contracts with teachers and the superintendent were approved by the San Mateo Union High School District Board of Trustees Thursday.

The board took on a variety of topics Thursday including contracts, naming the new theater at Capuchino High School, and hearing a conceptual plan for a charter school.

Teachers will see a 2 percent increase in salary this year and health and wellness benefits, according to the two-year agreement approved Thursday. In total, the increase will cost about $1.05 million annually, according to a staff report.

Superintendent Scott Laurence’s contract was changed to include a $9,000 increase boosting his base pay from $211,000 to $220,000, said Trustee Stephen Rogers. In addition, Laurence will receive funds for professional development annually rather than over two years, as was previously done. Lastly, Laurence will now be allotted a hotel allowance to be used when working late, specifically for board meetings.

At the same meeting, the board decided to name the yet-to-be-completed new Capuchino High School theater after former superintendent Sam Johnson.

Johnson, who now works as the director of administrative services and instructor at Notre Dame de Namur University, retired from the district in 2007 after a tumultuous year that included layoffs, budget cuts, calls for his resignation, teacher contract protests leading to a no confidence vote and a student walkout. During his time at the helm, the district also implemented the academic core and seven-period day and passed a bond measure.

Johnson had a long history with the district. He began teaching math at San Mateo High School in 1968. Johnson earned his master’s degree and administration accreditation in 1974 and became assistant principal at Capuchino the following year. He served as the principal of the San Bruno school from 1980 through 1989. In the summer of 1989, he moved to the district office and worked in a variety of positions before becoming superintendent in 2004.

Lastly, the board heard a brief report about the concept of a 400-student charter school.

The six-page report from Capuchino Vice Principal Ken Montgomery and teacher Nicole Cerra gives a number of concepts that could be used in a school called Ideal High School, or i.hs. Only two trustees — Peter Hanley and Marc Friedman — had met with those pitching the idea. Other trustees had questions and requested the opportunity to discuss those with Montgomery and Cerra.

While the i.hs information did not include a possible location or finances, they did announce a goal of implementing changes in 2014.

The vision calls for a creative environment that’s different from the traditional classroom and pulls from Stanford University research. Also, students and teachers would use a flexbook online platform to individualize work.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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