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Ysleta ISD superintendent finalist had second thoughts after leaving El Paso in 2012

By: Bill Melugin
EL PASO, Texas Xavier De La Torre, the lone finalist for the vacant Ysleta Independent School District superintendent position, told KFOX14 on Thursday his decision to leave El Paso for San Jose, California in 2012 may not have been the right decision.

De La Torre worked as Socorro ISDs superintendent from 2009-2012, before taking a job as the Santa Clara County superintendent of schools in San Jose.

During his time there, a report from the Contra Costa Times said De La Torre received an unsatisfactory review from the Santa Clara Board of Education, and that his bosses didnt add an extra year and pension bonus to his contract that a good review would have automatically triggered.

According to De La Torre, that job simply wasnt the right fit.

"I took the job in California at the County Office of Education which is a lot like a regional service center, De La Torre said. So I was the county superintendent responsible for 32 school districts, 270,000 students, but each of those 32 school districts each had their own superintendents, their own board of trustees and their own ideas of how best to serve their students. So, it was a little bit removed and distant from what I love, and that is working directly with teachers, support staff, administrators and the community.

"I began to question whether I made the right decision to take the county office of education job, rather than remain there in Socorro or continue working in school districts, so that's the primary reason for pursuing the Ysleta.

De La Torre said the second reason he pursued the YISD job was for his family.

I have five children, my wife and I have never had a better, more fulfilling, more rewarding experience, either personally or professionally, than during the three years when we were in El Paso, De La Torre said.

We sat and we reflected on it before making the decision to pursue it, and we decided that the values, the closeness, the close family-friendly community was what we wanted to expose to our children."

After the YISD school board voted 4-3 to select De La Torre as their lone finalist Wednesday night, KFOX14 asked board president Patricia McLean about his negative job review in California.

"We took that into consideration, the board had lengthy discussions in regard to that, and we still felt he was the best suited for YISD at this time, McLean said.

McLean pointed out that De La Torres work at Socorro ISD played a large part in his selection for the job.

According to the El Paso Times, during De La Torres time at Socorro ISD, he was credited for rallying the public to pass a $297 million bond sale, which encompassed the construction of three new schools, the completion of Eastlake High School, the conversion of El Dorado Ninth Grade Academy into Pebble Hills High School, and the installation of refrigerated air in the district's elementary schools.

KFOX14 asked De La Torre what he feels is the biggest issue he needs to tackle when he gets to YISD.

"I'm a fiscal conservative, so over time I've worked with organizations to make sure they adopt a balanced budget, De La Torre said.

The interesting dynamic will be that when I was at Socorro ISD, I managed growth, because Socorro was one of the faster growing school districts in the state of Texas.

"Conversely, at the moment at least, the Ysleta ISD is experiencing declining enrollment, so that needs to be managed because as your student enrollment goes down, so does your revenue, so we need to make sure that trend doesn't begin to impact programs in the district," De La Torre said.

De La Torre told KFOX14 during his time at SISD, he didnt feel his district or Ysleta ISD were the most attractive districts, but that quickly changed when they both won several awards.

"I'm not inheriting a district that's in need of reform, or repair, this is a terrific school district and I just hope to come in and contribute, and take it to the next level, De La Torre said.

De La Torre said he is thrilled and humbled to have the opportunity to work at YISD, and he is currently looking for a home in El Paso.

"Id like to be part of the budget development process getting ready for next year, which would mean ideally, Id like to be there no later than April 1, De La Torre said.



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