Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer’s contract has been extended another year by the Board of Trustees.
The vote in favor of granting Messer his sixth year as the district’s top administrator was announced by board president Deborah Romero after the closed session meeting Tuesday night.
The contract extension was approved “following a very satisfactory (job performance) evaluation,” said Trustee Evelyn Moore.
“I think he’s the best around here, anywhere near here. Look at what’s been done under his leadership,” she added, pointing to the success to date of the district’s first vocational charter school, be.tech Academy. The academy is adding six more extension programs – three at the main campus at the school district office on West Louise Avenue which is now being referred to as the be.tech campus – and another three at other high school campuses in the district.
Before the addition of the six new programs, be.tech, which opened as the Manteca Unified Vocational Academy (MUVA) three years ago, has been offering three starting with Culinary Arts which was the only program made available at the time. In subsequent school years, MUVA started Industrial Fabrication and First Responders. MUVA was changed to be.tech – the first two letters standing for Boundless Education, Beyond Expected – in 2013 by a naming committee which included be.tech students.
“He’s quite a leader and a visionary,” Moore said about Messer.
Trustee Nancy Teicheira said she has not always agreed with Messer on some issues but he voted in favor of renewing his contract because “he’s doing a wonderful job.”
In particular, she noted the many challenges that the district faced during the current school year without mentioning specifics, but “he has risen to the occasion and has handled the district’s business to my satisfaction,” Teicheira stated.
The deployment of the $30 million Going Digital program, which was not unanimously embraced by many parents initially, and the ongoing teachers salary negotiations are just two of the challenges the district faced, and continues to face, in the current school year. Prior to being appointed superintendent in 2000 when Trustee Michael Seelye was president, Messer was assistant superintendent of educational services, a position he held since 2004. The job had him juggling the responsibilities of this position plus performing acting superintendent duties after then superintendent Cathy Nichols-Washer accepted a similar job at Lodi Unified. He was described as “a master facilitator” and a “creative leader” for the work he did shepherding the district through the tough economic times while he was acting superintendent.
Prior to coming to Manteca Unified in 1996, the University of the Pacific and California State University, Sacramento, alumnus worked as a sixth-grade teacher at Lincoln Unified in Stockton where he was also dean of students, and served as principal at Brookside School, also in Stockton. He started in Manteca Unified as director of elementary education in 2002.