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MUSD Appoints New District Superintendent

(Photo courtesy of MUSD)

The Montebello Unified Board of Education unanimously appointed Susanna Contreras Smith to serve alongside longtime Superintendent Cleve Pell, filling the superintendent position left vacant when former Superintendent Robert Henke retired last month.

The appointment was made during school board meeting held earlier this month.

Last July, MUSD hired Contreras Smith to serve as the District’s Associate Superintendent of Accountability and Compliance, a position that will not be refilled as a cost-saving measure, MUSD Board President Hector Chacon said.

“I want to commend the board on their unanimous decision to appoint Susanna Contreras Smith to join Superintendent Pell as Superintendent of MUSD,” said Chacon in a press release announcing her appointment. “With her demonstrated leadership and impressive resume, this move makes complete sense.”

Contreras Smith’s contract runs through June 2016. Pell’s contract, which was recently extended to June 2013, will now be extended to 2016 as well.

Both Superintendents will receive equal work and equal pay according to the District’s legal counsel, who at the last school board meeting said under the proposed contract agreements, Pell and Contreras Smith will each be paid $191,362.56; a pay bump for Pell who was receiving $189,000 a year.

The East Los Angeles native and Garfield Highs School graduate started her career in education 38 years ago as a MUSD instructional aide. Contreras Smith has two decades of experience in the classroom and as a principal, and formerly worked for 12 years at the El Rancho Unified School District, serving as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for two years before being promoted to the Assistant Superintendent of Education, a position she held for 10 years.

At the board meeting, Contreras Smith vowed to do her part to ensure that MUSD students are college and career ready.

Contreras Smith earned her bachelor and master’s degrees and teaching and administrative credentials from California State University, Los Angeles.

“Susanna and I will make a great team and we’re going to do an excellent job to keep this school district performing at its highest potential,” said Pell in the press release.