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West board picks schools leader

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By David Giuliani

The West Las Vegas school board chose a familiar face to take the district’s reins.

In a unanimous vote, the board on Monday selected the district’s former associate superintendent, Ruben Cordova, as the new superintendent. That was after the board had interviewed candidates behind closed doors earlier that day.

“It seems like he (Cordova) will fit well. He’s already been here. He doesn’t have to learn the system,” board member Gary Gold said.

The board hasn’t negotiated a contract with Cordova, but the new superintendent is expected to make less than $115,000 a year, which is current Superintendent Jim Abreu’s salary.

Cordova, who has a Las Vegas address, has served as the assistant superintendent at the Pojoaque schools since November 2008. He was previously the administrator at Bridge Academy, a now-defunct charter school on Las Vegas’ east side. Cordova was at Bridge’s helm for a short time before it shut down; the school was in trouble before Cordova got there.

In 2006, Cordova was associate superintendent of the West schools when its bilingual program held the now-infamous $10,000 invitation-only, adults-only party that resulted in a state investigation and the conviction of the bilingual director.

But Cordova, whose job involved academics, had nothing to do with the party.

Cordova, who has a doctorate in education administration, served two stints as West’s associate superintendent — 1998 to 2001 and 2004 to 2006. He also has been the superintendent of the Mora and Wagon Mound schools.

His highest-ranking job was deputy superintendent for the state Department of Education, where he served from 1997 to 1998. He held many of his jobs for a year.

The other candidates for the West superintendent’s position were Gene Parson, the principal of West Las Vegas High School; Kaye Peery, who is on paid leave as the superintendent of the Zuni, N.M., schools; Darlene Ulibarri, assistant superintendent of the Pecos schools; Tonia Nolan Trujillo, retired superintendent of the Pojoaque schools; Ricardo Sanchez, a former West associate superintendent; and Ralph Friedly, former superintendent of the Dulce schools.

Board members hope that Cordova can start as superintendent July 1.

In March, a 3-2 board majority voted against renewing Abreu’s contract. It didn’t give any reasons for its decision. But some members previously said they were concerned about a critical state report that indicated the district was top heavy in administration and had other problems.