After one year, Puig remains bullish on CCAISD

By Robert Morales —

One year into his tenure as superintendent of schools at CCAISD, Marc A.
Puig reflects on the challenges that confronted him when he arrived
here last year.

When asked if there was one major challenge or
issue that he tackled as a priority, Mr. Puig didn’t hesitate. “It was
the need for us to be fiscally responsible,” he said. “We had a history
here (at CCAISD) of not balancing budgets for several years. As I see
it, balancing the budget was an early win that set the district in the
right direction.”

He added that although cuts were made to the
budget in order to balance it, he commended the trustees for having the
courage to implement a 10-percent raise to all staff, excluding
administration.
“The action the board took was a huge investment in
getting the district on track fiscally, and also, ensuring that we want
to invest in our teachers.”

Mr. Puig said that being fiscally
responsible showed taxpayers that “we can be good stewards with our
money, that we care about providing a quality education, and that we’re
going to demand it from ourselves.”

After arriving in Van Horn
last year from Luling, Mr. Puig said he had no preconceptions about what
to expect; however, he admits that he was somewhat surprised by the
“monumental task” of building trust between the school district and the
community.

“We have focused on building a strong governance team
with the foundation being our core values: integrity, student focus and
accountability.” Mr. Puig said he and board president Paul Uranga would
be in San Antonio on Wednesday making a presentation to 125 school board
members on he importance of good governance.

Mr. Puig describes
his relationship with the current board of trustees as very good. “A
relationship between a superintendent and a board is about an open and
honest dialogue,” he said. “We have really come together and blended as a
team in terms of building trust, being honest and focusing on the
students. Ultimately, this board has become a team of servant leaders;
in other words, building a relationship about service.”

In terms
of the most difficult issue to confront him, Mr. Puig said that the
Reduction In Force (RIF) was by far the most emotionally charged and
stressful issue he has faced to date. “Most superintendents don’t
survive RIFs unless you have a unified board,” he said. “Regardless of
how difficult those decisions were, this board is unified and this board
made those tough choices.

As for the decision to consolidate the
junior high and high school campuses, Mr. Puig said having one campus
will provide a “sense of family” for the students. In addition, he said,
it stresses the need to be a team and work toward a common goal. He
added that having one campus for high school and junior high would
likely provide a much safer environment.

Finally, Mr. Puig
doesn’t shy from his plans to make substantive improvement to the
schools through a bond issue. “We need to assess this carefully, such as
demographic trends and we need to assess the financial status of the
district before pursuing. However, if all looks well before August and
September, we will pursue this [bond] passionately.”