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MUSD: Spending $27,000 for political cover?
letter to editor

 The Manteca Unified Board of Education decided on Wednesday who would step into the interim role as superintendent, and they did so in just over an hour of deliberations.
But now, the seven-member board wants to hear from a pair of headhunting services as they weigh their options for hiring a permanent replacement – potentially costing the district between $10,000 and $27,000 depending on the services that are rendered.
With a push towards transparency and making sure that the board does everything on the level, it appears they’re willing to shell out a sizable amount of money for something they’re not even sure they’re going to use.
On one hand, all of the comments Wednesday morning centered on how qualified both Clark Burke and Roger Goatcher were to run the district, and how lucky the district is to have not one but two Deputy Superintendents that are capable as they are.
On the other, there are dozens of qualified superintendent candidates throughout the state – or the country, for that matter – that would probably love to come to Manteca Unified and help lead a district that has taken steps towards the cutting-edge as they come to terms with a period of sustained growth.
So, which one is best?
It’s important to remember that this is also a board that opted not to pay for an election consultant and appointed two people to the board after Alexander Bronson and Ashley Drain resigned from their seats once criminal charges were pressed against the pair.
They could have easily shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to make sure that they were doing things the right way, but the board operated with the opinion of its counsel and managed to get through the fallout of one of the most tumultuous times on the board in recent memory without any major fallout.
And that was the right thing to do.
So why would the board me willing to pay a search committee to do something that they can, in a sense, do for themselves?
I understand full well that these firms, which charge handsome fees, do so because they network the best and the brightest in their respective fields and build specialized profiles they feel, based on their expertise, would best suit the customer’s given needs.
But that doesn’t always work out.
It was a search firm that brought the City of Manteca Elena Reyes as a candidate for City Manager, and that proved to be a very costly and frustrating decision for the council. On paper, and in an interview, some people can seem like a perfect fit, but Manteca learned the hard way that isn’t always the case – when outside forces and personalities are brought into the mix, it can create a scenario that is unpredictable.
And in the case of Manteca, they not only the money they spent on the search, but the money they had to shell out to satisfy Reyes’ contract – a double-whammy.
It isn’t like Manteca Unified didn’t have its own terrible experience by hiring an outside superintendent that looked, on paper, like he would be a great fit for the then-growing district.
On Wednesday, however, nobody had anything good to say about the tenure of John Rieckewald, who came in with a bunch of ideas that never caught on with the rank-and-file and adversely affected morale.
Perhaps the board is simply trying to go through the process so that they can then hire from within or consider local candidates that would respond to the district’s job posting when it comes online as a way to show that they took all considerations before making such a crucial decision.
But at the end of the day, $10,000 – or $27,000 – is an amount of money that most people would consider too sizable to spend as a formality.
They’ve already made several difficult decisions in recent years, and I think this is another they should consider making rather than shelling out money that could be better used elsewhere when the best outcome, historically, is hardly a guarantee.
The self-fulfilling prophesy of social media
I can’t help but stop and think that much of the discord that I see sewn on social media – especially in local political circles – becomes self-fulfilling after a period of time.
By constantly focusing on how terrible something is and searching the innocuous for signs that substantiate one’s worldview, the worst of what is being accused starts to infect those who are doing the focusing.
I’m sure somebody far smarter than myself with an alphabet after their name has already coined a term to describe this phenomenon, and that I’m not breaking any new ground here at all, but it’s staggering me to how this is holding true more and more as we inch closer to the primaries, and how hyper-focused it will be as November approaches.
It appears a large subset of our society has jumped the shark.
While much has been made about the subject of “fake news” thanks to the Presidential election of 2016, there are now fake news elements that prop-up opinions as facts that are attracting thousands of San Joaquin County residents who can’t seem to tell the difference. I’d like to think that a delegitimization of the media as a whole has contributed to this, but the confirmation bias that is emerging as a byproduct is astounding.
I’d rather not give those who propagate this the recognition they so desperately crave, but I do want to note how self-styled “media” outlets are contributing to this destruction from within, and by extension is shorting the very people who are trying to make a difference in communities that so desperately need it.
By muddying the waters and making it impossible to determine the difference between what is real and what isn’t – what’s factual and what is fabricated – it seems like we’re rapidly approaching a point where everything we know and believe is instantly irrelevant.
I’d like to think I’m able to find the upside in most things, but this isn’t one of them.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.