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Julianna Stocking, at center, the newly appointed superintendent of the Merced City School District, joins together with Board of Education leaders and members of her family during a meeting on Tuesday evening.

Board of Education in Merced hires Stocking to take reins of city school district

New hire comes one year after last superintendent was fired; fourth new leader in four years


The Board of Education for the Merced City School District on Tuesday night unanimously appointed Julianna Stocking as the new superintendent to oversee this community’s education system that serves more than 12,000 students through 14 elementary schools, four middle schools, and a state preschool program. 

Stocking is a Merced County native and a Livingston High School graduate who went on to serve valley students as an educator in Delhi and Tracy for the past 24 years. She is currently the associate superintendent of educational services at Tracy Unified.

“Coming to Merced city feels like coming home for me,” Stocking told leaders after the vote. “My grandfather’s name

Julianna Stocking speaks to MCSD leaders.
Julianna Stocking speaks to MCSD leaders.

happens to be Merced the first. My father, who is in the audience, is Merced the second, and my brother is Merced Steven the third. So, some might say ‘ironic,’ I may say ‘meant to be.’”

The approved contract for Stocking includes a start date of July 1, and it will run through June 30, 2027, with the possibility of extension depending on job performance. She will earn $255,000 annually with standard district benefits. The salary is about $5,000 less than her predecessor Diana Jimenez received when she was hired in 2022. 

Stocking will be the district’s fourth leader in the top superintendent role since 2020. Longtime Superintendent RoseMary Parga Duran retired in December of 2019. Her successor, Al Rogers, resigned in 2021 amid sexual harassment allegations. Then Doug Collins followed as interim superintendent for a while before Diana Jimenez was hired to fill the top position in 2022. Less than a year later, in April 2023, the board flat out fired Jimenez “without cause.”

Then last June, the board hired the recruitment company McPherson & Jacobson to assist in a nationwide search for a new leader. In the process, the company compiled a survey of qualities needed for the next district superintendent. However, the report also collected anonymous feedback from surveyees that included a variety of grievances and unflattering views of district leadership. 

The controversial information surfaced in public, made media headlines, and ultimately divided members of the Board of Education. McPherson & Jacobson was swiftly fired in September, and the Cosca Group was later hired to conduct the search that led to the hiring of Stocking.

On Tuesday night, Stocking highlighted her willingness to foster positive and productive relationships, collaboration and support within the district and the local community. 

“We come from a family that greatly values education and hard work equally,” Stocking told Board members. “That will be reflective in my work and servitude to you. It will be led to strive with integrity and respect for everyone that I engage with, and everybody that we support. We are a people organization, and so it is critical that integrity and professionalism is what we model and what we share together as a team. 

“I will share that coming to work means more than putting in eight to 10 hours. We know the work goes beyond just the time that we put in. It never really ends. My grandfather Merced would say: ‘Do more than 8 and 10 hours. Instead, make sure that when you leave every day you interact and engage authentically with people. And that they will have something positive, and a positive experience, when you have done so.’ And we truly take that to heart, very humbly. 

“I plan to be very visible and very active as we know that the heart of our work is happening at our school sites and in our community. For me to best serve you, I will be there. 

“I also will do my work in collaboration as I meet all of our teams and our community members, and I look forward to fostering relationships as this time passes through this upcoming year, and I do have a very long-term commitment and vision of being here in Merced city. So my goal is to continue to not only foster, but sustain those relationships through the good times and the challenging times.”

She also added: “I absolutely love and live diversity.” 

Brian Meisenheimer, the district’s acting superintendent for the past year, received praise from both Stocking and board members for his service. 

Board President Allen Brooks called Meisenheimer a “rock star.”

“You were able to steady our district and keep us moving forward while we looked for our next leader — and it is really appreciated,” Brooks told Meisenheimer as many in the room applauded. 

Surprisingly, when considering last year’s heated board meetings about the superintendent search, no one from the public got up to comment about the Stocking hire during Tuesday night’s discussion and board vote. 

That said, Diane Pust, the president of the Merced Teachers Association, issued a clear message to the new superintendent during her regular comment period before the board. 

In her role, Pust has been outspoken about the need to improve communication, support, and development for the district’s educators. 

“It takes a school community to raise a new teacher,” she said at the podium. “And although our new superintendent is not a new teacher, Miss Stocking you are a new superintendent. I’m sure you too have plans and dreams for MCSD, but please know that we don’t expect you to do it alone. My request, or maybe advice, is to observe, ask questions, and seek support from all areas in our district. There are many, many smart people in this district who are ready to help you succeed in leading MCSD. We want to be a part of that journey.”

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