ALHAMBRA - As the new superintendent of the Alhambra Unified School District, you could say Laura Tellez-Gagliano has done it all in the field of education.
She's been a teacher, assistant principal of an intermediate school, principal of an elementary school, a director of a school district's curriculum and an assistant superintendent of human resources in this district.
Growing up in San Gabriel and attending Mission High, Tellez-Gagliano received her bachelor's from Loyola Marymount University, her master's from Cal State Los Angeles and her doctorate from the University of La Verne.
She also taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District for nine years and spent 17 years in the Garvey School District before making the move to Alhambra.
So, what's been the hardest part for her?
"The piece I really had to learn was high school because Garvey was a (kindergarten through eighth grade) school district," she said.
And what's been the easiest part?
"Already knowing the people and the relationships that were built, knowing the system," she said. "Every school district is a little different, but that piece is done. I feel comfortable here with all the stakeholders."
With the district dealing with the state's fiscal crisis, Tellez-Gagliano said Alhambra is actually in good shape.
"Right now, we have a healthy ending balance, but my first challenge is to keep us fiscally solvent," she said. "Depending what happens (with the November General Election), we need to sustain ourselves for at least this coming school year. We've been very proactive the past few years. We've really been watching our budget and looking for areas we could trim and cut."
She added the district also has money in the bank for a rainy day.
"We're well over in our reserves, but it depends on what happens in November with Proposition 30," she said. "School districts all throughout the state will be impacted with more dire cuts if it does not pass."
And if it doesn't?
"Everything's on the table," Tellez-Gagliano said. "There are other things we may have to look at (cutting)."
But despite the budget cuts the past few years, she applauded the district's teachers as most schools are above 800 in the academic performance index, a level the state of California considers to be proficient.
"Even though the last five years, getting hammered with budget cuts our teachers are doing a fabulous job in educating the students in this community," she said. "All of our schools are over 800, except for Alhambra High School. But they're at 794 and they're knocking on the door of being there."
She added the top school in the district is Baldwin School on Almansor Avenue, which had an API of 917.
Tellez-Gagliano also said safety is a concern in today's age, but that the district is always working with local law enforcement agencies to make sure nothing out of the ordinary occurs.
"We have a terrific relationship with the Alhambra Police Department and the Monterey Park Police Department," she said. "We try to be very proactive with different things to work with student safety. They have bullying prevention in-services for parents all year long. We have counselors for students. Whether it's academic or personal, we have lots of counseling support for our students if they have other needs besides just coming to school."
In addition, Tellez-Gagliano's annual salary is $203,500 and she has a four-year contract.
For more information on the district, call (626) 943-3330 or log onto www.ausd.us.
(Shel Segal can be reached at