Leon-Vazquez heads the newly reorganized board

An internal election at the recent meeting of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Education Committee on December 16 appointed Maria Leon-Vazquez – the district’s longest-serving representative – to her third term as president. Leon-Vazquez was first elected to the school board in 2000; In 2020 she was re-elected to the board for her sixth term.

Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, now in his second term on the board, was elected vice chairman. Tahvildaran-Jesswein was previously President again in 2018 and 2019.

Leon-Vazquez succeeds outgoing SMMUSD President Jon Kean, who was President in 2020 and 2021, and Vice President Laurie Lieberman, who has been either President or Vice President for seven of the last 10 years.

“It’s been a tough year – a very, very tough year, and it goes on,” said Leon-Vazquez in his comments to outgoing President Kean. “But, you know, on every count you led the charge. You and Laurie both brought the charges. And I appreciate that, despite the tough times we had to go through. But thanks. There is a lot of work involved [on] Behind [the scenes] in relation to the preparation for these meetings and the preparation for these meetings and all these other committee meetings. So thank you both. I think you did a great job and are still on the board so we will all work together. Dear, dear, thank you sir for all the hard work you have done. I also hope that you can sleep better afterwards. “

Kean praised Lieberman.

“I want to thank you for your moral clarity [and] Your high level of ethics, ”Kean said of his vice president. “You are – the ones you know know you are above reproach, which is why it is interesting that people you do not know make slander. But I just want to say that I can’t think of a better partner for these two years. “

He also addressed the division in the Santa Monica school community which he believed had grown over the years he served as president.

“The past two years have created a rift in our community, a lack of trust between the segments. We know that it is a smaller part of our population that has these feelings, ”Kean said. “I really hope that when Laurie and I move to other chairs … move the district forward – instead of trying to burn it down, they will build it up and support the new leadership and board. And if not holding this hammer is a step in the right direction, then I’m for it. “

District Employee

At the same meeting, the SMMUSD board announced that it had unanimously given Superintendent Ben Drati a satisfactory rating at a closed hearing last week. The board voted to extend Drati’s contract, which was due to expire in June 2022, for a further three years.

Drati’s new contract runs until June 30, 2025 and offers a base annual salary of $ 265,000 with an integrated annual salary increase of at least 3 percent. 25 school year, provided that he receives a satisfactory performance assessment from the board every year.

Drati was first hired by the district in 2016.

City council

The city council will not elect a new mayor and mayor pro tempore for 2022, with current mayor Sue Himmelrich and mayor Pro Tem Kristin McCowan keeping their titles in the new year. In December 2020, both Himmelrich and McCowan broke precedent and turned down nominations for a one-year term.

Himmelrich said she would only accept a two-year term, citing her personal need for a longer term to justify reducing her legal work and the community’s need for continuity in leadership during the pandemic.

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