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School board agrees to hire sole superintendent

The Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District narrowly approved a plan Tuesday to hire a single superintendent, rejecting ideas ranging from having multiple people in the position to none at all.

The proposal by board member Katherine Nakamura to maintain the leadership status quo passed on a 3-2 vote, with Shelia Jackson and John De Beck dissenting.

“I don’t think in these times you can depend on the status quo, but you need leadership, and right now we have a leadership vacuum,’' Nakamura said.

Jackson said that too often in the past, there were complaints that one superintendent had the power to filter information from the staff to board members, which wouldn’t happen if there were multiple people in leadership positions.

The new superintendent will replace Terry Grier, who left for Houston last year. William Kowba has held the job on an interim basis for more than three months.

The board delayed hiring a new superintendent while it developed a vision for the district and decided on its preferred leadership model.

Board President Richard Barrera, as an aside, said his preference would be to deal with the troubled 2010-11 budget situation now and then shift the focus to hiring a superintendent, who would hopefully be hired by the end of the current school year.

There was no support from the board on paying for a consultant to run a national search to fill the job.

Several board members offered praise for Kowba, drawing applause from the audience.