Mark Mutoza has witnessed a lot of change during his tenure with the Oakdale Joint Unified School District.
After 21 years of service with the district, the OJUSD Maintenance Technician/Locksmith will report to work one last time on Friday, Sept. 2.
“I’m really going to miss it,” the long term employee stated. “The people I work with, we’re like family. We’ve been through the ups and downs and seen a lot. I’ve seen a lot of change in 21 years. I’m really going to miss that and the camaraderie with everybody because we all get along.”
In addition to his maintenance/locksmith duties, Mutoza has served as an elected officer on the California Schools Employees Association, Chapter #830 for the past six years. The first year he served as Vice-President and has served as President for the last five. It’s a position, he shared, that he stepped into at a really tough time, noting a district pay cut of one and a half percent to OJUSD staff, several years ago, versus job eliminations in his early days as Chapter #830 President.
“Taking the cut to keep the staff was worth the one and a half percent,” he said. “I had heard horror stories of massive layoffs and closing schools, I didn’t want that to be us.”
Mutoza was first hired on with OJUSD as a Deep Cleaner Custodian. He spent 16 years prior to that in the trade of locksmith.
“I really didn’t care how I got it,” he said of a job with the district, “I just wanted to get my feet in the door.
“That was when school was year round,” he stated. “My job was to completely dismantle the whole room, take out all the desks, chairs, scrub the walls, the floors, then put it all back in place.”
Eight months later he became a Maintenance Technician/Gardener and eventually was assigned to his current classification.
He shared he began entertaining the decision to retire over a year ago, noting a health scare last fall and a motorcycle accident close to two months ago.
“It just makes you think,” he said of the life events. “Should I stay any longer or should I get out now? I can afford to get out now. Those two things kind of pushed me.”
What awaits him come Sept. 6 and retired life, Mutoza is unsure, but he welcomes it. His wife has plans for him in the way of a kitchen remodel. He also maintains side work as a locksmith and handyman, as well as creating things from horseshoes.
“I’m ready,” he said, of that first day with no place to be. “If I’m going to get up and do something I can, or just do nothing. I may take off and go fishing … I don’t really know, but I’m looking forward to it.”
As for the changes, Mutoza remembers many. The demise of year round school, the growth of the district and the partnership/camaraderie of OJUSD as a whole.
“If it wasn’t for my relationship with the district of my executive board, we wouldn’t have made it,” he said of his past five years as Chapter #830 President and negotiations. “There are a lot of districts out there that go to impasse or butt heads and that never happened here.
“If it hadn’t been for the administration and us working as close as we did it would have been ugly, but it turned out really good. We all stuck together. It’s like I said, we’re family here. I’m really going to miss it. I really am.”