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San Diego Unified Sticks With Superintendent Model

Audio

Aired 1/13/10

The San Diego Unified school board finally settled the district's leadership question yesterday. The trustees voted 3 to 2 to stick with having a superintendent.

— The San Diego Unified school board finally settled the district's leadership question yesterday. The trustees voted 3 to 2 to stick with having a superintendent.

San Diego school trustees have been toying with the idea of doing away with having one district leader ever since former superintendent Terry Grier resigned last year. He was the third superintendent to leave the district in four years.

The board majority was considering a variety of leadership options. But the panel felt it was more important to deal with the district’s money problems than to change San Diego Unified’s leadership system.

School trustee Katherine Nakamura says there are ways to tweak the superintend model to make it more flexible or unique, but in the end it all comes down to personality.

“This single superintendency can be as different as Tom, Dick, Harry or Harriett. It depends on who is sitting in that chair,” Nakamura said. “The model that we decide that we want for the superintendency and the leadership it provides, that is what is important and what is the fit for San Diego.”

Trustee and former teacher Sheila Jackson stood firm on the need for a drastic change. She says having one person in charge creates a conquer-and-divide atmosphere.

“I can't support this because I do think we need to move forward and not look back,” Jackson said.

It's still unclear how the board might tweak the superintendent model. San Diego resident Barbara Flannery told the board that the district's interim superintendent William Kowba is the best man for the job. Kowba was the district’s former chief financial officer.

“It is good to have someone with a strong background in budget models to oversee the district,” Flannery said. “It is unclear whether Mr. Kowba wants the job permanently, but if he does, perhaps the first line of business for the board to decide is, ‘Do we need someone new?’”

The board majority wants a permanent superintendent in place by spring, however they have yet to decide whether or not they’re going to look for a candidate nationally.

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