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Board Okays Funding for Supt.'s Home

By Teresa Rochester

April 29 -- Supt. John Deasy and his family will soon own their own home in the pricey school district, thanks to a salary advance approved by the Board of Education after plans for a district loan fell through.

The board last week agreed to give Deasy a salary advance of $85,785 so the East Coast native could purchase a condominium in Santa Monica, where he currently rents a house in Sunset Park.

The decision came shortly after county education officials shot down the district's plans to loan the superintendent $100,000 to buy a home in Santa Monica or Malibu, which comprise the 16-school district.

"Santa Monica has just become a place where you have to make big bucks to buy a place," said Board of Education President Julia Brownley. "A superintendent is very much a part of the community. If one was to observe the activities of the superintendent, it's really a 24/7 job…The board just feels really strongly around that piece."

Deasy, who moved with his family from Rhode Island last June, receives a $1,500-a-month housing allowance under his $150,000-a-year contract with the school district. In order to receive the allowance, Deasy must live in the school district, which covers two of the most expensive areas in the county.

"I have to live in the school district, which I'm glad to do," Deasy said. "I'm glad to have a permanent residence."

The board's decision comes two moths after approving a home loan modeled on a similar agreement granted to a superintendent in Northern California. But the Los Angeles County Office of Education balked at the plan, reportedly saying that the agreement violated the state's constitution.

Repayment for the salary advance hasn't been ironed out yet, however, the terms will likely be set as part of Deasy's annual salary review. Because the salary advance is not a loan, the district cannot collect interest on the principal.

The salary advance will not come out of money that is used for school programs, district officials said.

While Deasy could have foregone the salary allowance and lived outside the pricey district, Brownley said it was key for the district's new leader to live within its borders.

The contract between the district and the previous superintendent did not include a residency clause, but when the board hired Deasy in 2001, it pushed for him to live in the district.

"The board has always had a desire for the superintendent to live in the community," Brownley said. "He is not only a community member. He's a community leader. I think it's important for him to live in the district, and the board agrees with me."
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