Rob Watson

Bozeman Public Schools Superintendent Rob Watson presents to the Chamber of Commerce on the second high school bond in this Chronicle file photo.

The Bozeman School Board is happy with the job that Superintended Rob Watson is doing, and Watson says he’s happy to stay on the job to shepherd the construction of Bozeman’s second high school.

The board voted 6-0 Monday to award Watson a 1.5 percent pay raise, bringing his salary to $148,317 and extending his contract another year to June 2020.

“We’re lucky to have Rob. He deserves a lot more,” Vice Chair Heide Arneson said.

At the same time, the School Board voted unanimously to approve 1.5 percent pay raises in each of the next two years for 25 principals and administrators.

“Our leadership team is excellent,” Trustee Gary Lusin said.

Trustees also passed a new two-year union contract for school clerks and other non-teaching classified staff with pay raises of 2.5 percent next year and 3 percent the year after. Last month the board OK’d a two-year union contract with teachers that calls for 1.5 percent raises in each year.

Watson thanked the School Board trustees for their support and confidence, and said he feels honored to represent Bozeman’s public schools.

“I feel a lot of pride when I get to share our successes,” Watson said. He added that the schools also face challenges, especially with the transition to building Bozeman’s second high school.

“I’m really excited for the future and I’m committed to staying the course and maintaining my role in the community,” he said, as Bozeman builds the second high school and upgrades Bozeman High over the next three years.

Watson’s biggest achievement in the past year was winning overwhelming voter approval of a record $125 million bond issue to build the second high school, which passed with 65 percent approval. He and other administrators and trustees spoke to dozens of parent and civic groups to explain the proposal.

Arneson noted that in the School Board’s April job evaluation, Watson was rated as exceeding expectations. He also won two awards last fall — the Montana State University Alumni Achievement Award and the top award from the School Administrators of Montana, the 2016 G.V. Erickson Award.

Watson, whose mother once taught in Bozeman and who attended Bozeman Junior High, worked as a principal at Missoula Sentinel High and at Bozeman High before being chosen five years ago as superintendent. In addition to a pay raise and three-year contract, trustees have included a longevity incentive, to invest in an annuity or deferred compensation plan. It started at 1.5 percent of his salary in 2015-2016 and increases 0.5 percent each year, up to a maximum of 6 percent in the future.

Watson recommended the raises for the 25 other administrators, saying research on student achievement has shown that it’s important to have both high-quality teachers and high-quality principals.

“They’re an outstanding, high quality group,” he said.

Here are the new 2017-2018 salaries for school administrators, which are based on school size, responsibilities, years of experience, education, and the average principal salaries for large Montana AA high schools:

Name Title Salary
Marilyn King deputy superintendent for instruction $126,347
Steve Johnson deputy superintendent for operations $119,058
Chad Berg special education director $114,415
Robin Miller curriculum director $110,204
Patrick Strauss human resources director $108,800
Mike Waterman business services director $108,800
Todd Swinehart facilities director $101,078
Andrew Loftus music and fine arts director $99,675.

Central office: Marilyn King, deputy superintendent for instruction, $126,347; Steve Johnson, deputy superintendent for operations, $119,058; Chad Berg, special education director, $114,415; Robin Miller, curriculum director, $110,204; Patrick Strauss, human resources director, $108,800; Mike Waterman, business services director, $108,800; Todd Swinehart, facilities director, $101,078; and Andrew Loftus, music and fine arts director, $99,675.

Name Title Salary
Kevin Conwell Bozeman High principal $115,117
Gordon Grissom Sacajawea Middle School principal $112,309
Sharon Navas Meadowlark elementary principal $107,396
Brian Ayers Chief Joseph Middle School principal $106,694
Sarah Hays Emily Dickinson elementary principal $103,886
Jerry Reisig activities director $103,184
Mike Van Vuren Hyalite elementary principal $102,482
Andy Maheras Bozeman High assistant principal $101,780
Adrian Advincula Irving elementary principal $101,078
Randy VanDyk Chief Joseph Middle School assistant principal $99,675
Katie Laslovich Bozeman High assistant principal $98,271
Darren Schlepp Whittier elementary principal $98,271
Casey Bertram Hawthorne elementary principal $97,569
Patrick McClellan Longfellow elementary principal $97,569
Erica Schnee Bozeman High assistant principal $96,867
Cale VanVelkinburgh Sacajawea Middle School assistant principal $91,251.

School building administrators: Kevin Conwell, Bozeman High principal, $115,117; Gordon Grissom, Sacajawea Middle School principal, $112,309; Sharon Navas, Meadowlark elementary principal, $107,396; Brian Ayers, Chief Joseph Middle School principal, $106,694; Sarah Hays, Emily Dickinson elementary principal, $103,886; Jerry Reisig, activities director, $103,184; Mike Van Vuren, Hyalite elementary principal, $102,482; Andy Maheras, Bozeman High assistant principal, $101,780; Adrian Advincula, Irving elementary principal, $101,078; Randy VanDyk, Chief Joseph Middle School assistant principal, $99,675; Katie Laslovich, Bozeman High assistant principal, $98,271; Darren Schlepp, Whittier elementary principal, $98,271; Casey Bertram, Hawthorne elementary principal, $97,569; Patrick McClellan, Longfellow elementary principal, $97,569; Erica Schnee, Bozeman High assistant principal, $96,867; and Cale VanVelkinburgh, Sacajawea Middle School assistant principal, $91,251.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at 406-582-2633 or


Gail Schontzler covers schools and Montana State University for the Chronicle.

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