The Manteca Unified Board of Education was supposed to discuss which executive search firm they were going to use to find the district’s new superintendent on Tuesday night.
But they made the decision on who would permanently fill the role vacated by Jason Messer before the meeting even started.
Clark Burke – who was picked to serve as the Interim Superintendent last month while the board figured out its next move – was selected as Messer’s official successor during the closed session portion of Tuesday’s meeting.
“It is an honor to serve the students, staff and communities in Manteca Unified School District, and a privilege to work with those who are passionate and dedicated to the success of students,” Burke said. “I am looking forward to working alongside our staff this summer to “provide a safe, healthful and expansive learning environment”.
After a nearly 30-minute delay to the start of the regular business meeting, Board President Stephen Schluer reported that the board had taken action in closed session, and voted 5-2 to appoint Burke to the permanent post. Trustees Evelyn Moore and Bob Wallace voted in opposition.
Schluer and the district’s counsel will now spend the next week serving as negotiators on behalf of Manteca Unified to hash out a contract with Burke that will have to be brought back to the board for its approval before the appointment will be finalized. The future of the position that is now vacant – that of Deputy Superintendent of Facilities and Operations – it not currently known as no successor has been named, and no formal plan for how the district plans on organizing its administration under Burke’s leadership has been announced.
Burke was the lone Deputy Superintendent to Messer, who announced his resignation with less than a month left in the school year, until May of 2016 when Roger Goatcher was elevated to the title and tasked with handling Manteca Unified curriculum and instruction. Goatcher was considered for the role of Interim Superintendent, but the board went with Burke after both of the major bargaining units for the district – the Manteca Educators Association and the Manteca chapter of the Classified School Employees Association threw their weight behind him.
Burke got his start in education as a Marine Science Instructor and spent seven years as a junior high science teacher in Woodland before moving to a role as Vice Principal at Deer Valley High School in Antioch. He spent almost five years as a Principal at C. W. Dillard Elementary School in Elk Grove before taking job as the Director of Human Resources for the Eureka Union School District in Granite Bay in 2011. He was hired at Manteca Unified in December of 2012, and has spent all of his time at the district serving as the Deputy Superintendent.
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.
By taking action prior to the start of the meeting, the board skipped the discussion on the agenda that supposed to allow them to reach a conclusion about whether to hire Leadership Associates or the San Joaquin County Office of Education to perform the search for a permanent Superintendent.
At the special meeting where Burke was tapped to serve in an interim capacity last month, Schluer even hinted that the next full-time Superintendent might have been somebody present at that meeting.
“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.”
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