“You don’t go into a place and fix what’s not broken,” stated Dianne Talarico, the new Superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), after her unanimous appointment by the Board of Education.
“I’m not coming in with the flavor of the month or the latest package deal about how to improve things here. I’m coming with an openness to really listen to people and see what we need to do together to take SMMUSD to the next level. I’ll be spending a lot of time in the community and at schools during the first month of my being here. I will also spend time with the students because they are the customers and I want to make sure we’re providing the best for them. I’ll spend a little bit more time at the middle schools and high schools, at least during the first semester, not to ignore the elementary schools, but looking at the data and listening to the Board, that’s where I want to focus my energy during the first semester.”
Talarico concluded her remarks by noting, “Each year in a child’s life is the most important year and we don’t have time to waste. We’re going to give them the best possible education we can and we will help all children reach their full potential.”
In an interview with the Mirror, Interim Superintendent Tim Walker stated that Talarico‘s base salary will be $182,00 per year and she will have the opportunity receive up to a 10 percent performance bonus of her base salary. Her bonus will depend upon how well she meets certain performance goals which will be decided upon at a later time between her and the Board. The District will also pay her moving expenses and travel expenses to find housing as well as a $650 per month auto allowance and $1,000 per month annuity.
Board member Jose Escarce welcomed Talarico by noting the community will be pleased because she is “what they were really looking for in our next Superintendent. I feel we are extremely fortunate that the person who met those criteria and those desires walked in through the door. Her talent, her intelligence, her passion and her way with people will be remarkable assets for our District. I have no question that she will be the person to take the District to the next level.”
Board Vice-President Kathy Wisnicki told her colleagues, “What has impressed me the most about Ms. Talarico is that in every conversation and in every decision that she’s made, children, and the best interest of children, are at the center and focus of her decision making.”
Talarico is coming to the SMMUSD after a 5-year stint as Superintendent of the Canton City Schools in Ohio. The Canton Board of Education made a counteroffer to try to keep her in their District after hearing about SMMUSD’s offer.
Talarico will begin her tenure in the District on August 14.