Moving forward

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By Optic Editorial Board

The Las Vegas City Schools Board of Education moved quickly to fill its superintendent position, and we think that was a smart move.

Former Superintendent Sheryl McNellis-Martinez and the school board decided to part ways earlier this school year.

McNellis-Martinez is currently on paid leave until her contract expires at the end of this fiscal year.

The board advertised for a new superintendent for about a month, and then it wasted no time interviewing the two candidates who met the minimum qualifications and then selecting its top candidate.

Those two candidates were Las Vegas native Barbara Perea Casey and Ojo Feliz native Ruben Cordova.

On Saturday, the board voted unanimously to hire Cordova as the district’s next superintendent.

We venture to say that either Perea Casey or Cordova would have been a good choice. Both are experienced school administrators who have previously served as superintendent of a district the size of Las Vegas City Schools. Both have doctorates in educational leadership. Both are intimately familiar with the political climate that they would be stepping into.

There are also specific things we liked about each of the candidates. Perea Casey has a reputation as someone who knows the ins and outs of how a school district should operate, and she isn’t afraid to put herself on the line to do the right thing.

Cordova helped West Las Vegas regain control of its own finances from the state Public Education Department, and he has a reputation as someone who works quietly in the background.

The district was lucky to have these two individuals step forward and offer their services.

Cordova is being offered a two-year contract with a $110,000 salary. He will officially start his new job on July 1 although he may be brought on as a consultant starting in May.

We wish Cordova luck in his new job, because he is going to need it.

Morale throughout the district is low. The district has lost some of its best and most experienced teachers to retirement in recent years. Las Vegas City Schools has yet to catch up on its audits, which means it’s not eligible for emergency funding from the state and it doesn’t have access to the state capital outlay funds it has been awarded. And it has had trouble balancing its budget in recent years.

There’s a lot of work to be done, and we’re glad that this time around, the school board has chosen someone with experience.