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The rumors of the death of the superintendency are greatly exaggerated.

While the San Diego Unified board could not legally take any action today, it was clear from their talks today that the school district will seek a single superintendent, abandoning the idea of an alternative vision that could include as many as four school chiefs. Some in the press had speculated that the board might even eliminate the position of superintendent entirely.

But as San Diego Unified faces down a bruising budget crunch, its trustees were reluctant to start talking about dramatically different new plans. Even school board member John de Beck, who crafted the idea, said this was a bad time to bring it up.

“Put it all off,” he said. “Keep the superintendent.”

School board member Shelia Jackson was upset that the school board seemed unwilling to push forward with alternative plans. Having a single superintendent hasn’t worked, Jackson said, because a single chief can pressure their subordinates to not share misgivings about their plans. “Our leadership cannot be placed again in the hands of one person,” said Jackson, who participated in the meeting via teleconference.

The school board will vote on whether or not to start the search for a single superintendent or try out an alternative model next week. It could not officially decide today because the public wasn’t notified that the school board would make any decisions.

— EMILY ALPERT

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