District looks to replace Johnson

Superintendent takes new job at Mill Valley District; leaves Loomis June 30
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Staff Writer
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The Loomis Union School District is searching for a new superintendent. Paul Johnson, district superintendent for the past six years, recently announced he has accepted a superintendent position for the Mill Valley School District in Marin County and will be leaving June 30. Many district parents who have worked closely with Johnson expressed regret over his departure. Jennifer Roth, parent teacher club president at Penryn Elementary School, said she’s found Johnson to be “a huge advocate for our district, our students and the community.” Nancy Von Thaden heads the parent club at H. Clarke Powers Elementary School and said she was “surprised and sad” about Johnson’s announcement. “Working with Paul has been a joy. He has so much positive energy. He’s really been able to pull the community together. He’s easy to work with and open to new ideas,” Von Thaden said. In Johnson's announcement, he said, “During the past six years, we have accomplished some tremendous feats. It has been a remarkable adventure.” Those accomplishments include the establishment of the Loomis Basin Education Foundation, opening Loomis Basin Charter School, advancements in technology, implementing a Response to Intervention reading program, establishing a junior kindergarten and preschool program, and creating a strategic plan to drive the district. Johnson said the Education Foundation, while still growing, has been able to play a key role during the state budget crisis by rallying to save the physical education program. “If not for the Foundation, our district would have lost our P.E. program as we know it,” he said. Last year, the Education Foundation and parents throughout the district raised $52,000 to save a P.E. teacher position after the state cut the grant that had funded the position. “Unfortunately, the grant is still gone and the Foundation is organizing a drive again this year to fund the position,” Johnson said. Johnson said opening a new school has been a huge accomplishment. “Opening an International Baccalaureate charter school and building it from scratch was really exciting,” he said. According to school staff, Loomis Basin Charter now has two classes of each grade, with 310 students in grades kindergarten through six, and there are 600 students on the waiting list. The school’s Academic Performance Index was 930 last year. In two years, the school will have classes through eighth grade. Johnson said huge technology advances have been made during his tenure. He said the district installed wireless infrastructure at all schools that now allow teachers to have laptops, digital projectors, document cameras and smart boards. Many school parent teacher clubs have purchased rolling laptop computers that can be moved and shared between classrooms. The Loomis district board of trustees voted to use a search firm to find and screen interview candidates for the superintendent position. Johnson’s current salary is $134,936, which includes furlough days. Johnson also receives a $550 per month car allowance. Last school year, his salary was $142,393, and school principals made between $103,000 to $116,000. Shad Derifield, president of the Placer Elementary parent teacher club, said he’d like to be on the interview committee. “We need a superintendent who can cut costs without losing programs and continue to bring the district top testing levels,” Derifield said. Roth said the district needs “somebody that can embrace the small community feeling, while bringing in innovative ideas.” Johnson said the new superintendent will need to find ways to move the district forward during the state’s education funding crisis. “We’re at an 18 percent deficit level in funds right now. At some point, district-wide modernization of our schools is needed. That would require the passage of a school bond,” Johnson said. “Working in the Loomis district has been a great experience. The community is wonderful. The degree of parent and community support is impressive. I’ll really miss it,” he said. --------------------------- LOOMIS UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT What: K-8 elementary schools - Franklin, H. Clarke Powers, Loomis, Loomis Basin Charter, Ophir, Penryn and Placer. API: District 895; individual schools 889 to 930 Budget: $14,824,675 Students: 2,558 Employees: 246 Superintendent salary: $134,936 for 214 days, plus $550 per month car allowance; last year $142,393 for 222 days, plus car allowance Principal salaries: $82,260 to $93,260 for 201 days; last year $103,000 to $116,000 for 209 days Teacher salaries: $36,875 to $73,089 for 176 days; last year $38,961 to $77,000 for 183 days