Longtime educator named interim superintendent

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

PREMONT - Leobardo Cano, the new appointed interim superintendent, is seeing red once again - that's red and white.

"I'm still true to red, I believe it, go red," Cano said about moving from several school districts that have red and white school colors. "I have maintained my true colors, once red always red."

Cano, who has a doctorate degree in administrative leadership, has worked in several school districts including Rio Grande, Port Lavaca, Robstown and now Premont, which all have red and white as their school colors. Joking aside, 54-year-old Cano said he is up to the challenges to raise Premont's academic standards up to state standards.

"We are going to analyze what we have and make the necessary changes," he said. "I'm looking forward to it, this is a challenge for me and I'm ready…I think there are a couple of campuses where AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) need to be addressed. We need to find ways to do things (and implement programs) that have an impact. "

But Cano is not new to troubleshooting for school districts, In the late '90s, he was the superintendent of Robstown Independent School District and in three years, went from no campuses recognized to having four out of seven schools exemplary or recognized. He was named Educator of the Year in the 1999-2000 school year in Robstown ISD.

He said he is confident that he can do the same for Premont schools.

"There is no reason why Premont can't be one of the elite schools," Cano said. "We need to put high quality programs in the schools, it's in our grasp."

Cano started his first day as interim superintendent on Monday unpacking and settling into his office. Cano was one of eight applicants for interim superintendent. He was highly recommended by the Texas Education Agency, where he was working as an auditor to the creditation department, school officials said. In a unanimous vote by the school board and almost four hours of discussion on Sept. 26, Cano was selected for his 28 years of education experience and past record of helping troubled districts and four additional years as a consultant.

"I am excited to have somebody with this kind of experience and who wants to help us out," school board president Olga Ramirez said. "I'm confident that he will be successful and get us in the right direction."

Board member Carmela Garcia agreed.

"I have faith in Dr. Cano that he is going to do a good job," she said. "He strives in challenges."

Cano's contract is for a six-month period that can be extended if the search for a new superintendent is not completed. The board has set a salary per diem of $331 per school day with a $75 stipend for hotel accommodations for four days a week, Monday through Thursday. Cano wants to assure the parents and students of the district that he will get good results.

"The one thing that I want to emphasize is that you are going to see results, that's what it's all about," Cano said. "People want for you to be accountable and we are going to hold people accountable for results.

"I'm going to pick it up from here and I'm going to make things happen."