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Day 1 for new schools chief
Mick Founts sworn in as the new SJCOE superintendent
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Judge Richard Vlavianos administers the oath of office to the new SJCOE Superintendent of Schools, Mick Founts. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
STOCKTON – Mick Founts hopes to pioneer a new era at the San Joaquin County Office of Education.

As the new Superintendent of Schools – he ran unopposed in the May ballot – the Manteca resident has a dream for educating students.

“Imagine a place where kids learn the basics. By that, I’m talking about music, art, play, and physical education,” said Founts at Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony at SJCOE Education Service Center.

Otherwise known as electives, he believes those subject areas should go hand in hand with English, Math and Science.

“This is not the time to cut these programs,” Founts said.

He was administered the oath of office by Judge Vlavianos before a standing-room only crowd of over 300.

In attendance were educators, administrators, dignitaries, friends, and family members. Many had an impact on his life including Kristin Founts, his wife and resource specialist at Tracy High, and their two daughters, Larissa and Rashonne.

Founts and Rick Wentworth, the retired superintendent of schools, formed a reception line, exchanging pleasantries with those making their way to the special event.

Wentworth hired Founts, who taught English at Manteca High and also coached football and wrestling, in the early 1990s.

After 20 years, Wentworth – his 43 years in education also included the role of teacher, coach, counselor, and administrator at Manteca Unified and Escalon Unified – decided to step down, making available his post.

He strongly supported his deputy superintendent, Founts.

“I have full confidence that Mick will continue to develop innovative programs and services to serve our students and educators of San Joaquin County,” Wentworth said.

At his special day, Founts chose Mark Condit, who is the teacher on assignment for Multilingual Education, to handle the introductions.

Early in his career, Founts worked at Golden West School. It‘s there he first encountered Condit, who was a seventh-grade student.

 “I had concussions playing college football. But I didn’t have headaches until I met Mark,” he jokingly said.

When Founts moved over to the county office in 1991, Condit was among his first hires.

He requested Vlavianos to administer the oath of office based on his work with county students – included is Venture Academy Family of Schools  – involved in mock trials.

“(Judge Vlavianos) would do anything for them to be successful,” Founts said.

He selected Venture Academy alumni Michael Buchanan (Class of 2010) and his sister, Kirsten Seymour (Class of 2006) along with recently promoted eighth-grade student Leslie Watts to perform their rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”

Jonathan Kral, a recent graduate of Venture Academy, recited a monthly journal article written by Founts in 1995 regarding dreams and the promise of a quality education.

Prior to becoming Superintendent of Schools, he served as Deputy Superintendent, where he oversaw a variety of key programs including special education, migrant education, teacher development, charter schools, alternative education, student events, and outdoor education.

Founts also helped develop the one.Alternative Education program.

As for his new job, he said, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build on the strong foundation we have created at SJCOE.

“Now more than ever, education reform is needed to meet the needs of our students.”

Founts added that his goal is to not promote education like that of the past.
“We need to prepare for the future,” he said.

In addition, Founts announced Gary Dei Rossi as the new Deputy Superintendent of Student Programs and Services.

Dei Rossi had served as the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.

Jim Thomas will remain as Deputy Superintendent of Business, with Founts’ executive team consisting of James Mousalimas as the Assistant Superintendent of County-operated Schools and Programs, and Kathleen Skeels as the Assistant Superintendent of Special Education.