The search for a new superintendent for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District took a big step forward on March 24 after the school board selected a group of finalists from a list supplied to them after a national search by Leadership Associates.
“I’m very excited about the quality of the candidates … it speaks to the quality of our district,” said School Board President Jose Escarce about the board’s closed session meeting on the search. He explained that the list of candidates from the search firm was based on the best matches to a profile that was developed by the district.
The next step will be for the board to conduct interviews on the weekend of April 2. All of the candidates will be asked the same questions during the first round of interviews and then the finalists from that round will be engaged in an unscripted conversation. A board delegation may also make a site visit in May to their top choice’s current school district to learn more about him or her.
The board’s goal, according to Escarce, is to have a smooth transition to a new superintendent when Tim Cuneo’s contract ends on June 30.
At the school board’s March 17 meeting the board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to continue the cost of mental health of identified students through June 2011 at a cost of $1.25 million to the district. Funding for these services had been provided by the state but according to the district staff report that funding was cut in October 2010 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
This funding will provide services for 15 students placed at county department of mental health (DPM) residential treatment centers and 59 students who are receiving outpatient-based mental health services from the DPM.
Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget includes restoring the funding for these services for 2011–2012 school year but that will take a vote of the California legislature. If funding is restored the district can ask to be reimbursed for these funds.
The board also discussed establishing a new job classification in the district for a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) at the March 17 board meeting. The district is considering integrating people with this type of training into its healthcare team because it would help bring down their personnel healthcare costs for students. They will consider whether to approve this classification at their next board meeting.
Currently district nurses have a four-year college degree, a master’s degree, and a teaching credential. LVNs have 12 to 18 months of training and have to be supervised by a registered nurse.
Board President, Jose Escarce, who is also an M.D. noted there are a lot of things district nurses do that LVNs would never be able to do but there are things LVNs can do very well. “We need to recognize the limitations of each of these positions and not put people in positions … they shouldn’t be in.”