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Nevada superintendent candidates down to three finalists

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Updated: 7/25/2013 10:09 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Three people are being considered right now by Gov. Brian Sandoval to become Nevada's next new state superintendent of education.

The three finalist are: Dr. Rene Cantu, Rorie Fitzpatrick and Dale Erquiaga.

For five hours the state board of education interviewed the candidates eliminating one from consideration and narrowing the pool down to three.

All three finalists have Nevada ties and all three have different leadership styles: candid... connected... and committed.

The only one not from Nevada was Michael Sentence, an educator from Boston, who did not make the cut.

“We will have to hit the ground running,” said Erquiaga, who is the self-described candid one of the front-runners.

“I respect experts and rely on them but at the end of the day I am not afraid to make a decision,” Erguiaga said.

Erquiaga was Gov. Sandoval's policy director with a background in strategic communications--skills he says Nevada education system needs as it transitions.

“You all know test scores will likely drop when we change to those new assessments--we have to help people understand what's coming,” Erguiaga said.

The last state superintendent was James Guthrie--who left the job four months ago--feeling frustrated and under attack for candid and critical comments he made about Nevada’s education system. Guthrie says it was time he made his exit.

Dr. Rene Cantu calls himself connected to Nevada’s most vulnerable students. He's from a family raised in public education.

“To being the first in my family to go to college and complete three degrees,” Cantu said.

Cantu, with the Latin chamber of commerce--was in the running for Guthrie's job last time around...now he's a finalist again.

“There are too many children in our great state who do not have the opportunity to even complete a high school diploma,” Cantu said.

Rorie Fitzpatrick says she's committed.

“We've got to embrace the students that walk into our classroom--not just tolerate them but embrace them,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick’s interview has in a way lasted four months. She's been the interim superintendent since Guthrie's departure.

She'd like to serve Nevada’s students for the long-haul.

“We owe them that absolute feeling of something amazing. That's about to happen. We need to graduate every student who walks across that stage feeling prepared,” Fitzpatrick said.

Three people vying to represent 17 different school districts spanning the state.
Each district with a different set of problems and each candidate with their own set of solutions.

The second and final round of interviews goes to Gov. Sandoval.

For the next two weeks the governor will interview the three finalists.

The governor will choose Nevada’s next superintendent of public instruction sometime in August.

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