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Tracking Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Superintendent Salaries, Perks: Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Top Earners

Over the past decade, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s three superintendents received higher salaries than their predecessors and their contracts had perks including transportation and housing allowances.

Yet, none of the three spent more than just a few years on the job before moving on.

Current superintendent Tim Cuneo earns $220,000 in base salary, according to his current contract, signed on Feb. 19, 2009, and amended on March 5 of this year to state that he will not receive a 10 percent performance bonus for 2009-10 and 2010-11 and has a decrease in auto and phone allowance by 10 percent from March 1 to June 30, 2011, when he retires from the district.

Cuneo’s contract includes 25 vacation days per year, full health care coverage, 12 sick days, a $1,000 per month auto allowance and $3,200 per month housing allowance. Cuneo operated an educational consulting firm in San Jose before accepting the SMMUSD superintendency following a national search. The search that led to Cuneo’s hiring was conducted on the SMMUSD board’s behalf by Leadership Associates and cost the district $9,500.

Before Cuneo, the district’s top administrator was Dianne Talarico, who was with the district from August 2006 to June 2008. Her base salary was $182,000 and the contracted included a clause for a 10 percent annual bonus, 24 vacation days per year, 13 sick days and a $12,000 annuity. Talarico’s auto allowance was $650 per month and another $1,000 was allocated per month for a coach/mentor to assist her. Talarico, who was offered a contract after a search performed by search firm Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates, came from Canton, Ohio. The search firm cost the district up to $35,000, according to the contract.

Current Los Angeles Unified schools deputy superintendent John E. Deasy – widely expected to succeed LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines – served as SMMUSD superintendent from July 2004 to June 2007. His base salary was $100,000 annually and also included the standard 10 percent annual performance bonus clause. His contract included $1,500 in monthly housing allowance, $500 per month for transportation and a $250,000 life insurance policy.

The district provided the original contracts for review by the Mirror.

At its regular meeting on Oct. 7, Cuneo provided the board with a list of search firms that will be asked to submit proposals. The list includes the Cosca Group, Dave Long and Associates, Gary Kaplan and Associates; Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates; Leadership Associates; Liebert Cassidy and Whitmore; Morris and Berger; and PROACT Search.

Each search firm’s proposal will include background information about the firm, executive searches the firm has performed, the search process the firm uses, references from previous clients and fee structure.

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