Hector Montenegro, who has served as superintendent of Ysleta Independent School District in El Paso and San Marcos Consolidated Independent School District of San Marcos, Texas, touted more than 20 years of experience in education as a teacher and administrator in various capacities in Texas, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Montenegro has earned various honors for his work in diversity in education, including Hispanic Leader of the Year in 1994 and a Texas Association for Bilingual Education award in 2006.
Montenegro said he is interested in Reno’s climate, genuine people and the district’s vision developed by its diversity task force.
Some of the questions the board asked Montenegro and his responses follow:
Trustee Nancy Hollinger: Some community members feel the district is not transparent in its communication and decision-making. How would you address that?
Montenegro: You have a level of thinking I don’t think I’ve ever seen, to a certain extent. I’m most impressed by the level of feedback you ask for and the medium you use. Several of you have been longtime employees of the district and you’re very much informed. I feel you have an infrastructure that brings in the community, and that’s commendable because not too many districts build on that infrastructure. I think it sends out a good message that you as a school board set good standards. I’m quite delighted the infrastructure has already been set up.
Trustee Dan Carne: What do you call non-negotiable goals and how would you support those efforts?
Montenegro: I’m a strong believer in quality control. The way you organize and establish your goals are critical to be committed to the rest of the community. These are benchmarks you try to achieve. (The Blueprint for Success strategic plan) should be revisited regularly so you can recalibrate your goals. You have to look at data like a gas gauge. Sometimes districts don’t pay attention to data or have it in binders and don’t utilize it. If you run out of gas, you didn’t watch the gauge. At the end of the year, the data needs to be monitored. The whole focus is continued improvement.
Trustee Scott Kelley: High performance and accountability are priorities for the school district. How would you assess performance, its effectiveness and teacher effectiveness?
Montenegro: I took a good look at your data and found gaps. You have very good foundations, like when you take a look at your Gateway foundation. I spoke with good friends in Clark County and they were very complimenting of the work done with your Gateway curriculum focus. That should be the basis on which all decisions are made on instructional programs. “World Class School District” – that’s a vision, so what do you need to be in line with that vision? … What works in Gerlach may not work in Incline Village or Spanish Springs or Galena. … On the Web, you talk about culture competence. Every child needs to know about their peers. It makes children more interested in school, whether they’re engaged outside the classroom with extracurricular activities. More often than not, they did not drop out of high school; they dropped out mentally and emotionally. There needs to be a bit of backmapping. Where did we lose these children? There needs to be great alignment.
Montenegro asked the board at the end what it's looking for in a superintendent.
Kelley summarized the answer in one word: “Superman.”