With Dianne Talarico’s last day in office as superintendent of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Friday, June 20th, the district is very close to hiring an interim superintendent to take over the job temporarily.

“We’re hoping that by July 1st, we’ve identified someone [as interim superintendent] or are really close to making our selection,” said school board president Oscar de la Torre.

After two years with Santa Monica-Malibu, Talarico is leaving her post to become superintendent of the Burlingame School District, a smaller district in Northern California serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. She plans to start her new job Tuesday, July 1st.

At a special meeting earlier this month, the school board hired Leadership Associates, an executive search firm, to help assist in the search and selection process of an interim superintendent.

“Leadership Associates has worked very well with our district leadership team over the past year,” said school board member Kelly Pye. “They know the recent issues we’ve faced and can help us find an interim superintendent who will hit the ground running and keep us moving forward as a district.”

On Thursday, June 12th, Leadership Associates officials held community input sessions at Santa Monica and Malibu High Schools to receive feedback from employees and members of the community regarding the qualities and characteristics they are seeking in an interim superintendent.

“Although the forums were not very well attended, the information attained is exactly on point,” said de la Torre. “We need someone that has a strong management background, someone that’s empathetic, that’s caring about students; someone that’s transparent in all their business dealings and is a bridge-builder, a collaborator amongst diverse constituencies. Those are some of the comments that were made that stick out the most.”

An ideal candidate is someone with experience who is willing to work for a limited time, such as a superintendent that has retired and is looking for temporary employment, said assistant superintendent Mike Matthews.

Interviews of candidates are expected to be held the week of June 23rd by the school board.

De la Torre expects there will be about five candidates and notes that former Santa Monica City Manager John Jalili has shown an interest in the position.

“We will be speaking with him and having a serious discussion about the possibilities and also the challenges that exist within our school district,” he said. “In the end, what we’re looking for is someone that’s a good fit for our community.”

The interim superintendent could hold the position for as long as nine months, as a permanent superintendent is not expected to be hired until next March.

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