The School Board appointed Tim Cuneo as the new Interim Superintendent for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District after a brief discussion last Thursday.
Cuneo told the Board he was “extremely excited because I think we’re really [a] very good match. My intention is to get to know your community so we can make additional improvements in the quality” of education the District is providing to its students.
Board President Oscar de la Torre stated after the Board vote that Cuneo “can count on us to be in your corner. We know what you can deliver. We look forward to working with you to move our School District forward.”
Cueno, who comes from Northern California, most recently served as a senior partner with Cuneo-Zinner in San Jose, California. Cuneo-Zinner specializes in organizational development for both public and private educational ventures. Prior to that, he was an Interim Superintendent for the Scotts Valley Unified School District and Senior Executive Director for the 21st Century Education Initiative as part of the Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network. From 1966 to 1996 Cuneo held numerous Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and Dean of Curriculum and Instruction positions with Oak Grove, Whisman, Pajaro Valley Unified, and Fremont Union High School Districts.
After his appointment the new Interim Superintendent told the Mirror that he will be concentrating on the way the District is governed. He will also focus on Special Education issues and make sure the Facilities Master Plan moves forward. This week he will be visiting school sites to review the District’s summer program and he will also “be meeting key people in the community” so he can “understand the community.” He plans to move into the area as soon as he finds a place to live.
In an interview with the Mirror after the meeting, de la Torre stated that Cuneo stood out from the other candidates the Board interviewed “because he understood strong governance which is important during our transition” to a new permanent Superintendent. He also mentioned that the new Interim Superintendent will “help develop the job description for the permanent Superintendent and will help manage the search effort” to make sure the District gets a high- quality pool of applicants.
De la Torre also stressed that the District will be looking to hire a search firm with national experience to assist the District with the permanent Superintendent search.
The only public comment at the July 10 meeting came from Special Education activist and District parent Claudia Landis. She told the Board the Special Education community “supports the creation of a ‘Design Team’ as a means to reestablish trust and also to elucidate the needs of our Special Education program. Such a fact-finding element has been missing for some time in our District in regards to Special Education.” She then suggested that the Design Team be modeled after the District’s Financial Oversight Committee.