Turlock Unified School District’s Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday kicked off with an announcement by Superintendent Sonny Da Marto, who revealed his intention to retire at the end of this academic year.
“I look forward to spending some time with my 10 grandchildren and just seeing what else is out there,” said Da Marto. “I’ve never done anything but go to school.”
Da Marto has spent the past 38 years in education, with the last seven years spent at TUSD.
“For me, it has always been about the children,” said Da Marto.
Through his term as superintendent he has earned accolades,including the Jean and Clyde Dunlap Award for his efforts towards ending illiteracy in Stanislaus County and being named finalist for Superintendent of the Year through the National Association of School Superintendents.
“It has been my honor to be the superintendent for this outstanding district,” said Da Marto. “All of you are second to none. Our classified, confidential, certificated and administrative staffs have given me hope that the ‘lighthouse district’ we envisioned seven years ago will come to pass.”
The lighthouse district Da Marto is speaking of comes as a result of a strategic plan hatched six years ago to make TUSD a leader in Stanislaus County. According to Da Marto, the district is taking great strides to make this vision a reality.
“Through our leadership in the development of educational programs, our goals of building the blocks of a ‘lighthouse district’, we have been recognized locally, statewide, and nationally,” said Da Marto. “We have a long path yet to travel, but we are fully engaged in the journey.”
After Tuesday’s announcement, TUSD Board of Trustees President Frank Lima reflected on Da Marto’s time as superintendent.
“In the last seven years, Dr. Da Marto has led our district with conviction through some of the most difficult budgetary times in California state history,” said Lima. “Under his leadership, and the work and sacrifice of all employees in the school district, the financial standing and solvency of our school district was never questioned during Dr. Da Marto’s tenure.”
Lima also reported that Da Marto’s “can do” attitude helped achieve a number of district goals, including a variety of modernization projects, the creation of an eCademy Charter at Crane School, and the establishment of a professional development center where the TUSD Board conducts meetings.
“His vision and planning will benefit TUSD for many decades,” said Lima.
According to Lima, the school district now needs to find a leader who can successfully fill Da Marto’s shoes. The Board President reports that this individual can either reside inside or outside of the District and will be asked to fill an interim or permanent position as the new superintendent.
“The school board has a duty to find an individual who understands our community, who can work and gain the respect of all employees of the district, who will demand performance and academic excellence, and who will continue to work with the city and university to try to coordinate our public resources for the greater good of the community,” said Lima.
“We have a great community,” continued Lima. “I trust we’ll find a great candidate.”