Last week, the education community was rocked by the news that after only 2 years Superintendent Dianne Tararico would be leaving to become Superintendent of the Burlingame School District in Northern California on July 1.
In an interview with the Mirror, Talarico explained the move was being made so she could be closer to her family. She and her husband of almost six years had been living apart for career reasons for about three years, and several months ago she decided it was time to “find a school district so I could reunite with my family.” Talarico pointed out that being in a leadership role can be “complex and stressful” so it’s helpful to have a “built-in support system at home.”
The 2,400-student, K-8 Burlingame School District will be, according to Talarico, “the smallest district I’ve ever worked in, and it will give me a chance to be a hands-on educator. I won’t have a huge leadership team, so I will be doing a lot of heavy lifting” and playing a big part in human resources.
Talarico feels her achievements in the District include the passage of Measure R in February by voters that renewed the District’s parcel taxes and the passage of Measure BB: the $268 million school facilities bond measure. She also pointed to setting up increased access to Santa Monica College classes for the District’s high school students and working on the Small Schools Task Force recommendations that will be brought to the School Board for their approval. Lastly, Talarico stated she was “most proud of, despite all the drama in the District, that our kids are achieving at extraordinary levels.”
The Superintendent also mentioned that before leaving she’d be trying to tie up several things with the Special Education program. An outside auditor recently reviewed the program, and Talarico had proposed taking a number of steps to improve it. One of her proposals will be to recommend to the Board that they appoint an ombudsman for six months to begin implementing some of the changes needed to improve the Special Education program.
Claudia Landis, who is a Special Education parent, mentioned that the Special Education community “had started to develop a constructive relationship with Talarico” and believes there’s “still an opportunity until she leaves to do something constructive and lasting” for the Special Education program.
Board member Barry Snell told the Mirror, “I’m excited for her I think the K-8 District is a better fit for her. I’m sorry to see her go.”
Another Board member, Maria Leon-Vasquez, stated, “We’re going to miss her. She got hired when there were a lot issues in the District. She could never get those issues behind her to carry on her plan of action for this District.”
Assistant Superintendent Michael Matthews expressed his “appreciation for Talarico’s leadership and her commitment to our District.” He then added, “I’m very happy that she’s found a job closer to her family.”
Talarico, who has been an educator for more than 20 years, began her career as a special education teacher in her native Ohio. She then spent the majority of her educational career in the 64,000-student San Francisco Unified School District as a special education teacher, principal, and as an Associate Superintendent for three years. Before coming to the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) she was the Superintendent for the Canton City Schools in Ohio.
Superintendent Talarico’s announcement came just a few weeks after Deputy Superintendent Tim Walker decided to leave the District.
The School Board approved a contract with Leadership Associates to assist them with the search for an Interim Superintendent.
The Mirror’s calls to the SMMUSD School Board President and the President of the Burlingame School District’s Board of Trustees were not returned by press time.