When asked for their thoughts about consolidation of the two local school districts during a public forum Tuesday, Superintendents Jim Abreu and Rick Romero didn’t mince words.
“I want to go on the record as saying I’m not for consolidation,” said Abreu, who leads West Las Vegas. “We have two fine school districts in this town, and there are some distinct reasons for that.”
Abreu said the recent survey on consolidation conducted by a Highlands University class had some of its facts wrong.
“The survey said that West Las Vegas was established in 1947; actually, West Las Vegas High School was established in 1947. The school district was established in 1892. We have many fine graduates all over the state, all over the nation and all over the world,” Abreu said.
Abreu said before 1947, West students had to attend East Las Vegas or Immaculate Conception and that there was about a 68 percent dropout rate.
“West kids were put on a vocational track, and the East students were put on a college track. I’m very proud of the West Las Vegas school district. They have done a lot for the kids on the west side. East Las Vegas has done a great job also, but West Las Vegas is very distinct. I would be very scared to consolidate, because all the research I’ve seen shows smaller schools do better academically,” Abreu said.
Abreu said he worries about combining the districts into one large district.
“There’s some people here talking about about saving money by removing these big fat cats in the administration who get paid too much. That’s not true. I have research that shows there are not too many administrators. Good leaders make a big difference in academic progress, and they don’t get paid too much. In fact, I can tell you they don’t pay me enough to do the job,” Abreu said to applause.
Romero of the Las Vegas City Schools said he has only been on the job for a little more than a year.
“I’m not going to stand here and try to tell you that I understand what the culture is of Las Vegas; I’m learning it on a daily basis. So I’m not going to either advocate for or against (consolidation) because I don’t have that history that a lot of you do. But I concur with my colleague, we have two fine, fine school districts in this community. Two outstanding school districts,” Romero said to applause.
Romero said whether Las Vegas has one or two school districts is something he thinks the voters will decide.
“As far as the state Legislature goes, they won’t touch it. I’m telling you folks if they do, then they will have to go after Hagerman, Mescalero and you name it — it’s political suicide,” Romero said.
Romero said the reason he does his job on a daily basis is for the children.
“I do want to say something to those who have never spent time in these shoes, you know what, I’m ready to walk out of these shoes any day because it’s not an easy job,” the superintendent said. “I don’t think it’s fair that you judge how either one of us does our job because you’ve never walked in our shoes.”
“You don’t know what we have to deal with on a daily basis, and some of the tough decisions we have to make... so until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes or his (Abreu) shoes, please don’t try to understand what we have to deal with on a daily basis,” Romero said to another round of applause.