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Burke picked as interim MUSD leader
Clark Burke, right, chats with Karen Pearsall at the Manteca Unified School District Board of Education’s special meeting Wednesday morning. Burke, who has been serving as the Deputy Superintendent of Operational Services since December of 2012, was tapped to serve as the Interim Superintendent while the board comes up with a strategy for a permanent replacement. - photo by JASON CAMBELL/ The Bulletin
Manteca Unified’s longest tenured deputy superintendent will be stepping in to assume control of the district until a permanent replacement is found.
Clark Burke, who has been serving the district as the Deputy Superintendent for Operations Services, will step into the role vacated by former Superintendent Jason Messer on an interim basis while the school board determines what steps they’ll take in pursuit of a long-term replacement to steer the district as it enters a sustained period of growth.
On Wednesday morning, the board spent just over an hour in closed session debating on whether it would be Burke or fellow Deputy Superintendent Roger Goatcher – who handles educational services for the district – that would assume the top post. Burke, who has been serving in his position since December of 2012, came highly recommended by everybody who elected to speak before the board made their decision.
“I can tell that he’s genuinely concerned about the public trust and doing what the district said it intended to do,” said Karen Pearsall, who noted she had called Burke several times to talk about issues with the Measure G bond and was always impressed with his response. “When you lose public trust, or people don’t believe that you’re honest anymore, you can be honest from that point forward and nobody ever believes you again.
“He definitely has my trust.”
And Pearsall wasn’t alone in advocating for Burke, who has played a major role in steering the district’s growth policy and positioning Manteca Unified to be prepared for the influx of students that are coming over the course of the next decade.
The heads of both of the largest unions beneath Manteca Unified’s umbrella – the Manteca Educators Association and the Classified School Employees Association – both threw their organization’s weight behind Burke.
It’s also the first time that the person leading the district, which serves more than 24,000 students across Manteca, Lathrop, Weston Ranch and French Camp, has also been a reserve officer in the military. In addition to his role as an education administrator, Burke has spent 20 years in the United States Army Reserves, currently at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and is trained as an individual mobilization augmentee (IMA) solider assigned to the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command.
Burke said that he was thankful for the support of those that came out Tuesday morning. He noted that his goal in the interim post will be to ensure that the prep work for the 2018/19 school year is carried out without a hitch.
“I’m excited to help the district move forward,” Burke said. “There’s a lot of work to do this summer.
“We have the opening of school coming up, and we’re going to do everything that we can this summer to ensure that there’s a smooth start to the next school year.”
In order to ensure transparency, the board has requested that two of the Superintendent search agencies that submitted proposals to the district be brought back to a future board meeting so that they can make a public proposal and the board can consider whether to utilize their services.
The San Joaquin County Office of Education has offered to provide assistance for between $10,000 and $12,000. The board would also like to hear from Leadership Associates, which submitted a proposal for $27,000 for its services in advertising the position and assembling a pool of qualified candidates.
Not everybody was in favor of going that route.
Trustee Nancy Teicheira cast the lone dissenting vote on the two motions that set the table for the board to use the search services, noting that the last time that the district went sought outside advice and hired somebody from outside of the district – John Rieckewald – it wasn’t good for the district or for the students.
But Board President Stephen Schluer said that he believes that the district made the right decision, touting Burke’s credentials and noting that the opportunity to hire from within is still on the table.
“Dr. Burke brings over two decades of experience both in public and private education to this interim role and a drive to continue to work hand-in-hand with our staff, parents, and community as we continue to move forward,” Schluer said at the conclusion of the meeting. “The interim role is for right now while we look for somebody to take over the position full-time, and that person may very well be sitting in this room right now.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.