By Ryan Hagen and Josh Dulaney, Staff writers
Posted: 01/03/2012 07:04:50 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – High-profile leaders of the city and school district have recently been replaced, and the new year is expected to bring more new faces and approaches.

In December, three newly elected members joined the seven-person board that sets policy for the San Bernardino City Unified School District, and already they’re flexing their muscles on the direction the district should take.

That includes how – and when – to find a new superintendent, the top nonelective position.

The school board had planned to have a new superintendent in place in November, but in October it rejected all applicants.

Board members agree that the second search will be successful, largely because they say the election brought in board members who work better with each other and with district staff.

But they disagree on the next step, with new member Mike Gallo pushing to adopt a comprehensive mission statement first.

“In order to attract a qualified, quality candidate, we’ve really got to establish core values and a core mission, so we can characterize these elements and characteristics we want in a superintendent,” Gallo said. “We want the superintendent who’s right for us.”

Gallo wants to consult with community members, employee unions and other stakeholders to decide on a framework – such as whether the district should focus on science, technology, engineering and math training, as he advocates – and then ask candidates to demonstrate they can help accomplish those goals.

But that leaves the district in the hands of an interim superintendent for too long, said board member Danny Tillman.

“I don’t think the two items – the strategic plan and finding a superintendent – are directly connected,” Tillman said. “I really think there’s a need to hire a full-time superintendent who’s going to be there full time.”

Other vacant high-level administrative positions should be filled after a superintendent is found, to be sure they fit the new boss’ vision, board members said.

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