Laguna Unified Changes Superintendents


Recovering from a financial debacle that required a salary reduction for teachers, the Laguna Beach Unified School District this week named Thurston Middle School Principal Cheryl Baughn interim superintendent.

Baughn, 49, a district administrator for nine years, takes office Dec. 5. She replaces acting Supt. Jackson E. Parham, an attorney appointed by the school board after Supt. Paul Possemato resigned in August.

The search for a permanent replacement is expected to take four to six months. Baughn, whose salary will increase from $71,496 to $91,200, is debating whether to seek the job permanently.

“I am glad to have the opportunity to sit in the chair and perform the functions and gain a better understanding of what that would be like for me,” she said.


Ron La Motte, assistant principal at Thurston, will run the middle school in Baughn’s absence.

Baughn was named principal of Thurston in 1988. Her 27-year career has included teaching and administrative posts in the Irvine Unified and Escondido Union Elementary school districts.

Laguna Beach school trustees last week took steps to solve the district’s fiscal crisis by borrowing $850,000 and cutting teachers’ salaries by 5%. The moves were aimed at erasing a $1.4-million deficit in the district’s $13.3-million budget and avoiding a county takeover.

The district is expected to be declared fiscally solvent by the county next week with $598,000 in reserves.