VICEROY HOTEL — After 15 hours of interviewing and discussion this passed weekend, the Board of Education narrowed down the field of potential candidates for the position of superintendent to one.

Additional reference checks and a site visit will take place to validate the decision, and then the board can begin negotiating a contract, said Board President Jose Escarce.

Officials would not release the name of the finalist.

“Our sense from the previous week that we had a very strong pool of candidates was blown out and confirmed,” Escarce said.

A nationwide hunt for a new superintendent began in September 2010 when current Superintendent Tim Cuneo announced that he would be leaving the position in June 2011.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District board hired a firm to conduct the search in January.

Cuneo has led the district since 2008 through a tumultuous time marked by cuts in state funding, a failed attempt to pass a $198 parcel tax, an attempt to overhaul special education and a grassroots effort to try to raise money to save teachers’ jobs.

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