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School Board Approves New Superintendent’s Contract:

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Board of Education approved the contract for Tim Cuneo to serve as the District’s Superintendent until July 31, 2011.School Board President, Ralph Mechur, stated at the February 19 meeting that the District is going to be facing some tough times and in such times the Board has to be careful about the decisions it makes. “One of the most important decisions is choosing a Superintendent who will help guide us through these tough times.” He then pointed out that during the time that Cuneo has served as the District’s Interim Superintendent, he “has brought the District back together to help provide a foundation for us to move forward in these tough economic times.” Therefore, his appointment is “in the best interest of our community.” Mechur also noted that before negotiating Cuneo’s salary they reviewed superintendents’ salaries in like districts in Los Angles County and the cost of a new superintendent search. Cuneo will receive an annual salary of $220,000 per year, a $3,200 per month housing allowance, a $1,000 per month auto and phone allowance, as well as health and other benefits.After the vote, Cuneo stated that he decided to become the superintendent after carefully looking at his positive relationship with the Board, that the people he works with every day are committed to children, and that the District’s community is committed to education. He then noted, “These are tough times that school districts have never faced. It is a crisis! It is going to be very tough going forward. I’m committed to the challenge. I’m committed to due whatever it takes to make sure we meet the needs of our children the best we can with the resources we have.”In other business, the Board decided not to act on a staff recommendation to issue layoff notices to seven District certificated staff for the 2009-2010 academic year. In his presentation regarding the layoffs, the Districts Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Michael Matthews explained that these reductions would be the only ones necessary despite the devastating cuts to education at the state level. The cuts proposed are to nursing services, intervention counseling services, and elementary music teaching services. Matthews explained that these layoffs could be reversed if the funding for these positions becomes available but notice must be given to those who may be laid off by March 15.The Board, however, decided to wait until they got a better understanding of the District’s budget situation and how these cuts would fit in. They were particularly concerned that cutting the nursing staff would negatively impact the District’s students’ health.

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