Public describes desired leader

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By Don Pace

Las Vegas City Schools board members gave the public a chance to tell them what they expected and wanted in a new superintendent, but only a handful showed up to Tuesday’s forum.

However, Herman Gallegos, who said he was a former employee with City Schools, saw the small turnout as a vote of confidence for the board. He said his four sons are graduates of Robertson and his daughter is now a freshman at the school.

Addressing the board, Gallegos said, “If I can make a comment on why there’s not many people here tonight, looking on he positive side, I think the community and staff probably have a lot of confidence in your abilities to really look at the candidates and pick the one that you think best fits the bill. I think that you are all very capable and your record stands for itself, so since there’s not a lot of people, you may take that as a good sign.”

About 20 audience members, a mix of community members and employees of the district, told the board the ideal superintendent would be someone who is a good communicator, has vision, no hidden agenda and has an open-door policy.

Annette Clancy said she wanted someone with the strength to confront a crisis head-on.

“I think it’s so important for people, whether it be the board, administrators or the children and parents, to see that their superintendent has courage,” Clancy said.

Bonnet Gurul said, “We need some new blood, someone who comes in and is visible, someone who you can see, where people aren’t saying, ‘I don’t know how to reach him, I don’t know how to get a hold of him.’ Highlands went through a lot of things with morale. I’ve talked to a lot of teachers, and morale can be very valuable. I don’t think anyone’s really listening.”

Manuel Lucero, principal of Sierra Vista Elementary School, who was also acting as the moderator, used head coaching responsibilities as a metaphor for what he’d like to see in a new superintendent.

“The bottom line is that the head coach, in this case the superintendent, needs to know what every single person on his team is doing and should have expertise in special education, in elementary and secondary education and everything that this individual is tasked to be in charge of,” Lucero said.

Lucero said a lot of people need on-the-job training, but in this job, that would not do. He gave a long list of his own work experiences as a teacher, administrator and coach in his relatively short time in the teaching profession and told the board the new superintendent should be qualified in all those areas.

Lucero got a laugh when he added, “But I’m not applying for the job.”

LeeEtte Quintana, principal at the Early Childhood Center and Mike “Mateo” Sena Elementary in Sapello, said she wants a lot of things. She said she wants a superintendent who has the community’s respect and who would back up teachers and administrators, return phone calls, who is willing to listen and is accessible.

“I’d like to see a superintendent who has mental toughness and is willing to make hard decisions, not political decisions, which may include letting employees go if they’re not doing there job. Someone who is willing to listen to our administrators and teachers and not hold grudges against people who don’t agree with him or her,” Quintana said.

Some audience members wanted to see a new superintendent who would be willing to form a council that would be a liaison between the administration, school board and teachers and staff.

Board President Elaine Luna said after the meeting, “The public was very helpful this evening. Even though it was sparse, I am grateful for the fact that we had community people come out, parents, teachers, some of our administrators were here, and they all gave some really valuable input.”

Luna said the next step in the hiring process would be to start looking at applications as they start coming in after the April 11 deadline.

The superintendent’s job will open up on July 1, after Superintendent Pete Campos leaves to become president of Luna Community College.