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Darren McDuffie took over as the new superintendent of Santa Maria Bonita School District on July 1. McDuffie comes to Santa Maria from the Rialto Unified School District, and will oversee 2,000 staff members and 17,000 students in his new role. 

Santa Maria-Bonita School District Superintendent Darren McDuffie took over leadership of the largest school district in Santa Barbara County earlier this month and is hoping to use his nearly 30 years of experience to empower and excite both students and teachers.  

"In kindergarten, that's when students are the most curious, the most creative. They use their imagination, and they're excited about school," he said. "If you have a happy kid that's excited to come to school, the byproduct of that is going to be higher test scores; it's going be academic achievement; it's going to be students that are well-rounded individuals."

In his role, McDuffie will oversee more than 2,000 employees, serving 17,000 students across four junior high schools and 16 elementary schools. He is taking over for interim Superintendent Matt Beecher who held the position after Luke Ontiveros retired in December 2021. 

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City Government Reporter

Joshua Nelson is the City Government Reporter for the Santa Maria Times.

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