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Santa Maria-Bonita School District Superintendent Luke Ontiveros will retire in December.

The Santa Maria-Bonita School District adopted a contract with executive search firm Leadership Associates this week to assist in the search for a new superintendent, with district officials hoping to finalize a candidate by March.

Leadership Associates has worked with neighboring districts including Santa Maria Joint Union, Guadalupe Union, Orcutt Unified and Lucia Mar Unified in their own superintendent searches over the years, and will now be helping Santa Maria-Bonita as Luke Ontiveros prepares to retire at the end of December.

The process will begin with gathering input from stakeholders such as parents, staff and students, followed by development of a position profile based on desired criteria that will be shared by the firm to garner applications, according to Leadership Associates partner Fred Van Leuven.

According to tentative timeline, applications will be due Jan. 20, with candidate selection and interview occurring in February, followed by the final selection of a new superintendent by early March.

"We're responsible for everything. The applications will come in to us, we'll advertise it, we'll vet everybody," Van Leuven said. "We will tell you who we think matches your criteria that you set, and you'll see all the applications and get a chance to decide who you want to interview, and then it ends with you." 

The district is organizing a virtual meeting for 5 p.m. Nov. 17 to begin discussing candidate criteria and gathering input from stakeholders. The agenda will be posted on the district website at

Following Ontiveros' retirement, Deputy Superintendent of Business Services Matt Beecher will serve as interim superintendent until a new candidate is selected.