New Superintendent Plans to Hit the Ground Running

Jeff Wilson
Photo by Zane Hill / OUTLOOK
Jeff Wilson speaks before the school board for the first time after being approved as San Marino Unified School District’s new superintendent last week.

Addressing the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education for the first time, Jeff Wilson said he looks forward to the opportunity to “make you guys my true family” when he formally takes over as the district’s superintendent on July 1.
“You are my new family, like it or not,” he quipped, speaking at the school board’s meeting last week, “and I can’t wait to get started.”
Wilson, whose selection by the school board was announced May 3, with the appointment made formal with a contract approval on May 14, will become SMUSD’s 14th superintendent when the next
school year begins. He comes by way of Arcadia Unified School District, where he served as an assistant superintendent since 2014.
The contract sets Wilson’s pay at $245,000 per school year, with a $500-per-month vehicle allowance and $100 monthly cellphone stipend. He will be subject to an annual evaluation and an accompanying pay raise if deemed satisfactory. The contract lasts through June 30, 2022.
Accompanied not only by his family last week but also by a contingent of AUSD administrators, Wilson spoke enthusiastically about joining the district and said he planned to hit the ground running to make sure he acquainted himself with every stakeholder in the district, from high level administrators right down to support staff.
“You are the heart and soul of this great body and I can’t wait to get to know every one of you,” Wilson said, specifically addressing school site faculty and staff.
Wilson emerged from a total of 44 applicants, which the school board had initially narrowed to six for in-person interviews. Three of those applicants had second interviews, with the board unanimously settling on Wilson.
A Glendora native, Wilson joined AUSD in 2008 as a middle school principal, eventually being promoted to assistant superintendent of educational services. Before that, he was a teacher, assistant principal and principal at Covina-Valley Unified School District for 10 years.
Wilson earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and master’s degree in educational leadership from CSU Fullerton, master of divinity from Biola University and a doctorate of education from Azusa Pacific University.
Wilson called the opportunity to work for SMUSD “such a blessing” and lauded the efforts of various community organizations to support the district as saying “so much about the community.” Although nearly two months from his first day, Wilson said he already had plans to visit school sites and meet with different leaders throughout the community.
“I hope you sense that, first and foremost, I am a people person,” he said. “I can’t wait for the moment to get out to be with our PTAs, to be with our Rotary. I’m hoping to get out to Carver, Valentine and Huntington within the week. I’m really, really excited to get out to the community. I know how important the sense of community is here in San Marino and that is so important to me.”
San Marino’s vacancy was created in September after Alex Cherniss departed for the same position with Palos Verdes Unified School District. Cherniss was hired by SMUSD in 2014, to replace the retiring Loren Kleinrock. The school board tabbed Kleinrock, who has remained as a consultant and occasional placeholder administrator, as interim superintendent after Cherniss left.
School board President Lisa Link, before introducing Wilson, thanked district employees for keeping focused and even absorbing added tasks during the superintendent vacancy and especially thanked Kleinrock for taking up the district’s request. Pivoting back to Wilson, Link brought up the rave reviews she heard of the man while making on-site visits to Arcadia.
“I can tell you that he is smart, thoughtful and responsive, and even though he won’t start until July 1, he is already thinking about how he can make this district the best it can be,” she said.

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