44 Candidates Apply for School District Superintendent Position

As of last Thursday’s deadline, 44 have applied to be San Marino Unified School District’s next superintendent, nearly double the 25 who applied for the position when it was last posted about five years ago.
Those 44 applicants represent 12 states, giving a “great mix of California and national candidates,” according to Mike Escalante, one of the men hired to conduct the search. Escalante, along with colleague James Guerra, plans to present those applications and their video interviews to the SMUSD Board of Education in closed session on Tuesday, after which the board is expected to narrow down its top candidates.
Those candidates will tent-atively interview with the board in person, again during closed session, on April 26 and 27. The board, along with district officials, has expressed a desire to have a hire in place before the start of the next school and fiscal year on July 1, particularly given that the majority of applicants are expected to have ranking administrative positions in other school districts.
The eventual superintendent will take the CEO position for what has been the state’s highest-performing school district in terms of academic measurement for nearly two decades. He or she will head a district whose student population translates into minimal state funding, which presents logistical issues for an operation aiming for below-average classroom sizes and a large amount of attention toward student achievement and wellness.
He or she also will be supported by a historically generous community, which financially supports district activities either through private donations or self-imposed parcel taxes, as well as a board of education motivated to retain those affluent families of San Marino within the district’s schools.
The prior superintendent, Alex Cherniss, resigned in August after accepting the same job with Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District. He’d spent more than four years with the district, overseeing the expansion of extracurricular partnerships with neighboring institutions and the groundbreaking of a long-awaited athletic facility at Huntington Middle School. Cherniss additionally led the
ill-fated introduction of a facilities improvement bond proposal, which has been temporarily shelved, and a well-publicized legal feud with a school board member regarding a misconduct investigation, resigning almost immediately after (but not as a result of) a settlement that was signed last summer.
Former superintendent Loren Kleinrock, whom Cherniss ironically replaced in 2014, was tabbed as the placeholder in the meantime, having served as a district consultant and interim administrator for SMUSD since his retirement. He has publicly said he will not seek to return to the permanent job.
Escalante and Guerra, who conducted the previous superintendent search for SMUSD, are keeping applications confidential except to district officials and board members to appease applicants who likely will not want their current employers to know they’re potentially seeking to leave their districts.

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