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Scholl seeks 2nd term
Board president backs Measure G
Manteca Unified Board President Don Scholl is shown flanked by Superintendent Jason Messer, left, and Sierra High School Assistant Principal Dan Beukelman during a board meeting. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Don Scholl, the current president of the Manteca Unified Board of Trustees, is seeking another four-year term in the November 4 elections.

It has been a busy four years for the Fairfield native who is the youngest of 11 children. Since his election in 2010, he has served as clerk of the board for a year, board vice president the next year, and president of the board for two years in a row.

He and his wife Becky are the parents of two children who are the products of George McParland Elementary School and East Union High School. Daughter Megan, 24, graduated from the University of California at Davis, and son Collin has followed in his father’s academic footsteps and is currently attending Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

But their children are not the only reason Scholl has the interest of Manteca Unified and its students close to his heart. His wife, of more than 28 years happens to be an education who has taught in Manteca for 25 years, the last 24 at George McParland School. Together, they have been enmeshed in the district’s state of education, having been actively and closely involved in their children’s schooling through the years.

When their children graduated from McParland, they chaired the graduation committees. When they were at East Union, they led the Sober Grad committees for both of their children’s graduating classes.

“Thankfully, we had many friends who helped make these events successful,” said Scholl who is currently the Superintendent of the City of Tracy’s Parks, Sports Field & Trees Division, and was recently appointed to manage the city’s Landscape Maintenance District’s contracted maintenance services.

For his solo involvement ventures, Scholl served on the East Union Site Council for eight years, and was a member of the Measure M Citizen’s Oversight Committee. Measure M was the $69 million school bond that was passed by the voters about 11 years ago.

And that’s just the short list when it comes to the Scholls’ volunteer endeavors and participation in the school district.

“Becky and I supported the kids’ extracurricular activities as well – attending many sporting events, musical performances, etc. I coached Collin for many years in both baseball (Northgate Little League) and soccer (Manteca Youth Soccer Association,” Scholl added.

The board president, who is being challenged as Trustee for Area 6 by election newcomer Alexander Bronson, is a self-made man in his educational and professional field. He financed his way through college by holding a string of jobs that included working at a self-serve gas station, a retail nursery, a small landscape maintenance company and his own small gardening business. While pursuing his college degree at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, he also worked for the County of San Luis Obispo Parks Maintenance Division, and the Cal Poly Grounds Department.

Prior to Cal Poly, he received his Associate of Science degree in Ornamental Horticulture from Solano Community College in Suisun City. Marriage came next after that. Right after they wed, they moved to San Luis Obispo to complete his bachelor’s degree in Ornamental Horticulture.

After graduating from Cal Poly, he went to work for various companies prior to his current job for the City of Tracy. Immediate after college, he went to work for Cagwin & Dorward Landscape. While working there, he worked as an Irrigation Technician, Crew Foreman and Area Supervisor at various sites including Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton, and Chevron Park in San Ramon.

He is a former employee of the City of Modesto where he went to work in 1991 as a Golf Course Supervisor running maintenance operations at Creekside Golf Course. Later on, he became Golf Program Manager for all three of Modesto’s golf courses. That was followed by a stint with the city’s Parks Maintenance Division managing the care of John Thurman Field, Tuolumne River Regional Park and many other parks.

In 2001, he went to work for the City of Tracy as division manager of the General Fund’s Parks Maintenance Division. As head of Parks, Sports Fields & Trees Division, he oversees all general fund park operations and the city’s urban forestry program that, all in all, constitutes more than 38,000 trees.

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Scholl shares his thoughts about the $159M school bond

Below, in his own words, Scholl shares some of his thoughts about the school district’s controversial $159 million Measure G school bond, and about the future of education for the students of Manteca Unified.

1. What are your thoughts about Measure G and how it will benefit the district, the community, and students?

 As you can tell from my work experience, I am a ‘facilities guy’.  My career has included management of the operations and maintenance of golf courses, parks and a minor league baseball stadium.  I have overseen the care of various buildings, playgrounds and related amenities.  I have also been deeply involved in many Capital Improvement Projects from design through construction.  It is this background, and my many visits to the various District campuses over the years, which made the repair and improvement of MUSD facilities one of my main goals when I joined the School Board.  

The Maintenance and Operations staff of MUSD have done a great job of working with the materials, tools and facilities they have, but they simply cannot stay ahead of the needs of such heavily used and aging campuses.  This is especially true now that the State has taken away all Deferred Maintenance funding.  Though typically not more than $2,000,000 or so in recent years, this funding was a key source of money for large repairs to the District’s facilities.  I view Measure G as an essential part of making our schools safe, healthy and productive places for our students and staff.  

The Master Facilities Plan that was recently completed calls out a laundry list of needed repairs and upgrades that will guide the expenditure of Measure G funds.  The Board has already given clear direction to Administration that health, safety and security needs are the top priority.  Though the $159,000,000 the Bond is designated to bring for this work does not cover all the identified needs, I believe that it will go a long way to making our schools safe, secure and modern places for educating our kids.  With the many repairs and upgrades the Bond will bring, I expect our schools — that are in many ways the center of the communities of Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp and Weston Ranch —  will remain a source of pride for all.  Finally, the projects Measure G will fund will bring jobs to the area and in doing so will bolster the local economy.

2. Many have been critical about the part of Measure G that states some of the money will be used to build new classrooms.  Please comment.

I understand these concerns.  There is a fear that the funds will be used to build glamorous, unnecessary buildings.  MUSD does not currently need new buildings for new incoming students but that could change depending on growth.  Measure G could provide for the addition of classrooms at existing schools if that need arises and to prevent overcrowding.  The reality is that the District has many old and deteriorating buildings and classrooms – some are permanent buildings, some are portable classrooms.  These need to be addressed, especially if they are considered unsafe or potentially unhealthy.  In doing so, we will also have an opportunity to modernize the facilities to meet the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s students.  

Keep in mind that Measure G funds will not be the only source of money for these types of projects.  Other local, State and Federal sources will be utilized.  Measure G can also potentially provide matching funds for facility repair and school construction grants that the District applies for – therefore stretching the Measure G dollars well beyond the Bond amount.

I cannot emphasize it enough that I and the rest of the Board have clearly stated that the first priority for Measure G expenditures will be school health, safety and security needs.  This will continue to be my emphasis if I am re-elected.  I strongly believe that Measure G is a unique opportunity for us to step up and provide the type of environment our students and staff want, need and deserve — an environment where the education and personal growth of our students are the focus.