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Tietjen approved as top Merced educator

Steve Tietjen, the superintendent of Los Banos Unified, speaks to the Merced County Office of Education governing board during a special meeting where the board voted to appoint Tietjen as Superintendent of Schools effective Jan. 1. Current Superintendent of Schools Steve Gomes announced in February he would end his term two years early, retiring in December. Gomes recommended the board choose Tietjen as his replacement. The board voted 3-2 to appoint Tietjen on Monday, April 11, 2016.
Steve Tietjen, the superintendent of Los Banos Unified, speaks to the Merced County Office of Education governing board during a special meeting where the board voted to appoint Tietjen as Superintendent of Schools effective Jan. 1. Current Superintendent of Schools Steve Gomes announced in February he would end his term two years early, retiring in December. Gomes recommended the board choose Tietjen as his replacement. The board voted 3-2 to appoint Tietjen on Monday, April 11, 2016. bcalix@mercedsun-star.com

Steve Tietjen was appointed Monday by the Merced County Office of Education governing board as the superintendent of schools to complete the remaining two years of Steve Gomes’ term.

“I’m still overwhelmed by the notion of becoming the county superintendent,” Tietjen said after the meeting.

Tietjen, 60, has served as superintendent for Los Banos Unified since 2007.

Gomes, 65, in February announced he will retire in December, ending his term two years early. The transition plan he recommended to the board included appointing a replacement who would shadow him for the remainder of his tenure before taking over Jan. 1.

The board also could have chosen to conduct a competitive process for Merced County’s top education position.

At a March 21 meeting, the board voted on the same agenda item, but tied 2-2. Dennis Hanks was absent from the meeting, leaving only four board members to vote.

The board appointed Tietjen on a 3-2 vote in Monday’s special meeting. Trustees Hanks and Gloria Honey cast the dissenting votes, saying they preferred a competitive process.

“While I think Tietjen is well-qualified, I don’t think we should eliminate all the other people who might be interested,” Hanks said at the meeting.

Honey and the other trustees congratulated and welcomed Tietjen after the meeting.

Before the vote, trustee Frank Honore said, “Steve (Tietjen) is the way to go.”

Trustee Chris Chavez echoed his support, saying the county office needed someone who has experience leading a district through tough times. “I believe we have found them,” Chavez said about Tietjen.

Chavez’s comments referred to Tietjen’s tenure in Los Banos, which began in the midst of the recession. Tietjen led the successful 2008 campaign for a bond measure to build Pacheco High School. Part of that funding also is being used to build a new junior high school in Los Banos. The junior high project has been controversial because of the district’s choice of contractor and funding methods.

In total, Tietjen has more than 30 years of experience in education.

Tietjen, whose salary is $176,000 annually in Los Banos according to Transparent California, will make $180,000 in his new role, which is Gomes’ salary.

After Monday’s meeting, Gomes said the board’s appointment will help make for a “seamless transition.”

Tietjen said he will submit his resignation to the Los Banos Unified governing board during its meeting Thursday.

From there, the board will move forward in choosing an interim superintendent or conducting a search. The board was previously notified of Tietjen’s recommendation for the county job.

Brianna Calix: 209-385-2477

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