There is an innocuous looking item at the end of every agenda for regular meetings of the Tracy Unified School District Board of Education that reads “Superintendent’s Report.”
It was item 16 on the agenda for the meeting Tuesday, Nov. 12, but within a matter of seconds became the most important topic discussed when Superintendent Dr. James Franco finished his report by announcing his retirement.
“After 26 years, it’s time to do something else,” Franco told the seven-member board, adding that he plans to finish his term at the end of June 2014 but will continue to work until the board finds his successor.
Board president Greg Silva was the first to speak after Franco finished his remarks.
“We had a debate earlier in the year about naming a school building,” Silva began. “In my humble opinion we should have been debating naming a school district, because this is James C. Franco’s school district. Most of the success in making this a great school district and a great learning environment, a great place to work, is because of James Franco.”
Board member Kelly Lewis called Franco one of the few people he admires and a man of great integrity.
“You have to have a certain ability to truly care about people, have a passion for what you do, and you have that at levels I wish I could get to someday,” Lewis told Franco. “The reason the facilities look the way they do is because of your leadership in the district. And everything that we have accomplished is because of you.”
Board member Ted Guzman recalled Franco’s leadership during the struggle to get the school bonds that paid for district improvements approved by the community.
“I remember going to the meeting after a couple bonds had not passed,” Guzman said. “Jim got the community together and said, ‘What do we need to do to get this bond passed?’ He took the reins and got the bonds passed.”
Board member Walter Gouveia talked about his special relationship with Franco.
“He’s my compadre,” Gouveia said. “He’s the godfather of my son.”
Franco has served as the superintendent since 2002 after holding the office of Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services from 1995 to 2002. Franco was principal of Tracy High School from 1989 to 1995 and principal of Monte Vista Middle School from 1987 to 1989.
Before moving to Tracy in 1987 he served as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in Juneau, Alaska and the Vacaville Unified School District.
A news release from the district Wednesday, Nov. 13, stated that Franco intends to now pursue a lifelong goal to bring educational programs to foreign nations through work with the Peace Corps.
• Contact Michael Ellis Langley at 830-4231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.