MANTECA — An important agenda item to discuss a direction in the appointment of a new superintendent was decided before the meeting ever started.

Manteca Unified Board of Trustees announced Tuesday evening as the meeting began that interim superintendent Clark Burke was promoted to superintendent, formally replacing outgoing superintendent Jason Messer.

“It is an honor to serve the students, staff and communities in Manteca Unified, and a privilege to work with those who are passionate and dedicated to the success of students,” Burke said in a statement.

“I am looking forward to working alongside our staff this summer to provide a safe, healthful and expansive learning environment.”

Burke, 43, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in education, and a doctorate in educational leadership. He has attended the University of California, Santa Cruz; UC Davis; and California State University, Sacramento. In addition, he is an officer in the Army and graduated from several schools of military leadership.

Prior to serving in Manteca Unified, Burke was the Director of Human Resources in the Eureka Union School District in Granite Bay, an elementary school principal at Elk Grove Unified, a high school vice principal at Antioch Unified and a middle school science teacher at Woodland Joint Unified.

In a statement, board President Stephen Schluer said Burke’s two decades of experience in private and public education and a drive to continue to work hand-in-hand with staff, parents and community led to the decision.

After initially naming Burke interim superintendent two weeks ago, the board had voted to use Tuesday’s meeting to consider proposals from at least two search firms to eventually locate candidates for the permanent position. The board would’ve heard proposals from the San Joaquin County Office of Education and Southern California educational search firm Leadership Associates.

Now Burke and trustees will develop a contract of employment in the next two weeks and vote to approve it on July 24.

Burke will take the handles from Messer, who resigned on May 8. His resignation will take effect at the end of the school year on June 30.

Although Messer has not specifically said what his next role would be, he is interested in being more involved in innovative education.

“I am very impressed with the supportive culture and core academic accomplishments in the Manteca Unified,” Burke said. “This exemplifies the pride and commitment of the staff, the students, and the community to a high-quality education. We are all lucky to have the opportunity to work, learn, and share in such a great community.”

MUSD currently serves more than 23,500 students with more than 30 schools throughout Manteca, Lathrop, French Camp and south Stockton.

Contact reporter Nicholas Filipas at (209) 546-8257 or Follow him on Twitter @nicholasfilipas.