SMMUSD HDQTRS — Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s newest superintendent will start at $230,000 in base pay, but will not receive all the same perks or the work schedule that her predecessor enjoyed, according to the contract released Monday by district officials.

The contract, provided in response to a public records request by the Daily Press, shows that incoming Superintendent Sandra Lyon will make $10,000 more in base salary than her predecessor, Tim Cuneo, but will not receive a housing allowance worth $38,400 that Cuneo was given as an incentive to move from his home in San Jose.

She will get a one-time moving allowance of $12,000.

Under the terms of the agreement, Lyon will also get a slightly smaller phone and car allowance ($900 a month compared to Cuneo’s $1,000), work two more days a year and earn one less day of vacation. She’ll rack up vacation days more slowly than Cuneo as well, two days a month rather than two and a half days a month for Cuneo.

Cuneo’s contract included a number of things that were “unusual,” said Board of Education President Jose Escarce, although the housing allowance was the most valuable add-on by far.

Escarce and board Vice President Ben Allen were part of Lyon’s contract negotiations.

“He was going to be the interim superintendent, and when we extended his contract we knew he wouldn’t be here for many years, and had another home in San Jose,” Escarce said. “It helped him continue to be a superintendent. That wouldn’t be part of a normal package. We already decided that irrespective of the candidate, this was going to be a permanent position and relocation.”

Lyon’s contract also includes very specific duties and expectations like directives to represent the school to parents and other community members, provide leadership in instruction and curriculum and communicate openly with staff any critical “issues or incidents,” among others.

The language in Cuneo’s contract included a single paragraph listing seven points of general responsibilities to Lyon’s 12, focusing primarily on his relationship with and obligations to the board of education.

“There are two approaches to this,” Escarce said. “We spell out a number of responsibilities and allude to the job description. Mr. Cuneo’s was more general.”

The additional working days — 222 to Cuneo’s 220 — will bring Lyon’s work-year in line with the rest of the senior cabinet members, and the vacation time is “pretty standard,” Escarce said.

One benefit that Cuneo did not receive, however, was the $12,000 to pay for a “coach” during Lyon’s first year.

Both former superintendents John Deasy and Dianne Talarico also used a coach, essentially a confidant for the otherwise isolated superintendent.

“The position of superintendent can be a lonely job, like many jobs where you are at the top of a complicated organization,” Escarce said. “The coach gives you someone to talk to at the same level.”

Usually, the coach is a superintendent or retired superintendent that understands the issues at the school district and can provide feedback on decisions that the new hire is making.

Lyon will have the opportunity to select her own coach, which the board will then either approve or deny.

Lyon’s first day on the job is July 1.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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