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New Superintendent Costa Selected For Top Job
Embarking on a wide-ranging search to find a new Escalon Unified School District Superintendent, the search committee found what they were looking for ... right next door.

In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, March 30, school board members appointed Ronald J. Costa as the new district superintendent. He currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services in the neighboring Riverbank Unified School District.

"From my point of view, it was a perfect fit," said Costa. "With my background and my knowledge about the Escalon district ... everything seemed to fit."

Costa lives on a small farm and has grown up in the area, with an emphasis in his own life on agriculture, sports and community. He also said he has held a variety of jobs within the educational field, from teacher to Director of Educational Services to his current post. He has been with the Riverbank district for 18 years and said having the chance to advance his career, but stay in the area, was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.

"I like the fact that I have a lot of close relationships in the area," he said.

Costa earned his Bachelors of Science degree in agricultural science and management at the University of California, Davis. He received a multiple subjects teaching credential from Chapman University and has single subject credentials in math, life science and agriculture.

He also has a Masters of Science Degree in Educational Administration from National University.

Originally, Costa was a math and science teacher in the Riverbank district for Cardozo Middle School, starting there in 1992. He also served as coach for both basketball and volleyball at Cardozo and took on advisor roles for the California Junior Scholarship Federation and the middle school's leadership class.

He moved in to administration as an Assistant Principal at Rio Altura Elementary School and became the Principal in 1999. Under his leadership, the school implemented programs and strategies that helped bring about a 143 point gain in the API.

Costa moved on from Rio Altura to the district office in Riverbank, first as Director of Educational Services in 2001 and later as Assistant Superintendent of Business and Secondary Educational Services. He has held his current position as Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services since 2008.

Current Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Dave Mantooth, who will retire at the end of June, said he is looking forward to working with Costa to make a smooth transition for the district.

"Between now and July 1, there are 15 days where he can be working with us," Mantooth said.

Costa continually came out on top in all the areas the search committee focused on, Mantooth added. He agreed that finding the new superintendent so close by was unexpected, but feels that will be beneficial in the transition, with Costa already familiar with and a part of the Central Valley.

"It was very exciting," Mantooth said of finalizing the search process with Costa's appointment at the March 30 board meeting.

Mantooth and Costa will develop the schedule of days for Costa to be in the district.

"I have non-contract days remaining in the school year and those days I'm not working for Riverbank I will come over to Escalon," Costa said.

He also knows that, like all schools, Escalon is struggling with budget issues.

"I think everybody should be concerned, we don't know what will happen in the future," Costa said of the uncertainty of state impacts on the local school budget.

He added that Escalon has a strong base to work from, and he will work cooperatively with the board and staff to address budget concerns, striving to maintain programs and services.

"The issue is you don't say the sky is falling when it's not," Costa said. "You get the facts, weigh the options and make decisions."

A lifelong resident of the area, Costa is married with four sons. He officially takes over as Escalon's new superintendent on July 1.

"I can't speak for the board but I think what they were looking for, I just fit the mold," he said.