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School district announces new superintendent

If Scott Scambray wasn’t sure about taking the Merced Union High School District superintendent job before Wednesday night’s board meeting, he is now.

“You know you’re in a good place when you get a standing ovation before you’ve done anything,” joked the 48-year old as he stood in front of the meeting’s audience.

At the meeting, the district board approved hiring Scambray to replace retiring Superintendent Bob Fore. Scambray will take over the leadership position in July.

“It was not a hard decision to come back to the Valley,” Scambray told the crowd. After living and working in Southern California for 13 years, this Fresno native said he almost forgot how nice Central Valley residents can be.

The son of a former high school principal, Scambray said he has spent his entire life on high school campuses. A 1977 graduate of Fresno’s Bullard High School, Scambray went on to Fresno City College then Fresno State University. A tight end on the college’s football team, Scambray was good enough to attend a Seattle Seahawks training camp, but never officially made the team. He graduated from Fresno State in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting.

By 1985, Scambray had taken a job at teaching math at Hoover High in Fresno. In 1988, he went back to his Alma mater — Bullard High — to teach math and coach football.

In 1994, Scambray was recruited to Rancho Verde High School in Moreno Valley to become an assistant principal. Scambray then became the school’s principal in 1999, a position he held until 2005. At that point, he was promoted to serve as the Val Verde Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Accountability. While happy in his position at that district, Scambray said he couldn’t help but be interested in the opening here in Merced. “The goals I have fit the goals this district has,” he said.

But little did he know that the selection process would prove to be one of the most arduous of his life. “I think there were 52 people in that first one,” he joked, referring to the interview conducted by MUHSD’s 18-member superintendent selection advisory committee.

That committee — made up of community members from Atwater, Livingston and Merced — interviewed candidates for the superintendent job earlier this month and shared its results with the board. It was the board members, however, who made the final selection after their interviews.

“He just exudes leadership,” said board member Tim O’Neill. “He had all the right answers, the right attitude. He’s all about the students.”

O’Neill added that he was struck by the comments Scambray made when visiting the MUHSD offices at the Castle Commerce Center in Atwater. “He asked why there weren’t any pictures of student successes on the walls,” O’Neill said. “I’d never thought about that.”

Scambray, who spent the last couple of days looking for a home in the area with his wife Rachel and three young daughters, said his first order of business when he takes over will be getting to know the district and community. “We’ve got to hit the ground running,” Scambray said, as school will begin about a month after his first day.

And with that standing ovation, it looks like Scambray is off to a good start.

Reporter Abby Souza can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or