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Superintendent’s Message


It’s a pleasure to have been selected to serve as your superintendent of schools!

I am genuinely excited about the opportunity I have been afforded by our board of trustees. While conducting research in preparation for my job interview, I quickly discovered why Laredo ISD is regarded by many as one of the most colorful, vibrant, and progressive districts in Texas. It gives me great pleasure to know that I will soon be a part of the rich culture and tradition known as the Laredo ISD Family. My first objective as your new superintendent is to simply learn as much from each of you as I possibly can. From curriculum alignment to facilities construction, I am eager to become acquainted with the issues that ultimately affect us all. Additionally, I look forward to tapping into the talent and expertise I know exists throughout this great district. I am confident that by working together we will take Laredo ISD to new heights! Con mucha esperanza,

Daniel Garcia, Jr., Ph.D.


Garcia begins tenure as LISD superintendent The first official day of spring means brighter days and warm sunshine are ahead. It also welcomes Dr. Daniel Garcia, Jr. as the new superintendent of schools for the Laredo Independent School District. The Laredo ISD Board of Trustees selected Garcia as superintendent during a special call meeting held March 8, 2006. an onths have been The last seven m for me. We have worked perience extraordinary ex els to improve the quality of lev l al at at tly diligen s. We realize th l of our student education of al lenges, yet we know that our al we have great ch inuous improvement is even cont grown as an commitment to e months, I have es th g e in ur D r. greate r and have com an administrato re and that we individual and ca that ndent on people r system is depe ll of hopes and to realize that ou ther to forge a new beginning fu ge must all come to many dreams. ank you for the r person and I th hts have been the tte be a am I at I know th ther. My highlig g and interacting e have made toge lkin memories that w ading to students, the time ta let them know t re to t en en sp I sp e at th tim e es th tim ture leaders, fu d looks bright. I re an h tu fu ut r yo r ou er with ou fine and that st ju be and come togeth to st g be in u to do your d that we are go yo an s of e ed on ne y nt er d ev stude challenge each an ational system that focuses of welcome to our educ m r ar tte w be a a nd te rm ex fo u to ove ent. I ask that yo e ef forts to impr student achievem iel Garcia Jr., and continue th e you, our parDan portunity to serv students. new leader, Dr. iative of the op ec pr ap am ard and our I y. each da munity, our Bo m co r ou s, er ay tes! ents, our taxp nuestros estudian s y dedicacion a zo er fu es s su r Gracias po

mpre, Su servidor de sie CPA a, cu ez m A J. s su Je

“I believe that all children can in fact learn, provided that they are given an opportunity to learn and are provided with the necessary and appropriate instruction,” said Dr. Garcia. “My role will entail working with our board of trustees to formulate a common vision for the district which may consist of four major areas including curriculum and instruction, human resources, finance, and facilities.” Most recently, Dr. Garcia served as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and continue pg.5

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Dollars & Sense



The Laredo Independent School District Finance Team has received yet another Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada. This is the ninth award to the team has garnered from the organization. According to GFOA, the award represents a significant achievement by the entity, reflecting the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. In order to receive the budget award, LISD had to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device. Budget documents must be rated “proficient” in all four categories to receive the award. When a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award is granted to an entity, a Certificate of Recognition for Budget Presentation is also presented to the individual or department designated as being primarily responsible for having garnered the award. This award has been presented to the LISD Finance Team.

Cigarroa High School opens Literacy Center on Wed., March 22. Funding for LISD’s Literacy Centers was made possible by the State of Texas and LISD’s Public Facilities Corporation.

The Laredo Independent School District formally dedicated the Dr. Margaret G. Cigarroa Literacy Center located at Cigarroa High School during a recent ceremony. The ceremony was attended by close to 80 Cigarroa family members and dignitaries. Ashley Humphries Sanchez Architects designed the 9,375 sq. ft., building which includes an administrative office, computer labs, and classrooms. LISD is also opening Literacy Centers at Martin and Nixon High Schools. Nixon’s Literacy Center will be dedicated

The center will be used for reading instruction for students and staff development for reading teachers. The centers will be opened after hours for tutoring of students and adult education. Each of the centers will service neighboring middle and elementary schools. Dr. Peggy, as she was known, delivered thousands of babies and provided medical care for three generations of Laredoans. Dr. Peggy and her husband, the late, Dr. Leonides Cigarroa, had six children. Three of her children also became physicians. She practiced medicine until her retirement in 1995. She passed away in 2001.

“We have a good group of knowledgeable people working in the district’s Finance Department,” said LISD Board President Dr. Dennis D. Cantu. “This award represents excellence in budget preparation and it also serves as testament to our taxpayers whose dollars are carefully and properly accounted for.” The Government Finance Officers Association is a nonprofit professional association serving 14,000 government finance professionals throughout North America. The GFOA’s Distinguished Budget Presentation Awards Program is the only national awards program in governmental budgeting. For more information, contact the Office of Communications at ext. 3295.

The LISD Tax Office proudly stands in front of their office located at 904 Juarez Street. The office celebrated a collection rate of 82.71 percent for the year-to-date until February. Tax Assessor/Collector Rodolfo “Rudy” Sanchez says the Tax Office is on its way to breaking a new record of 97% by September.


$57 million bond election fast approaching A Parental Involvement Center and Student Services Center, a new Middle School, High School Science Labs, PreK Classrooms, and a new J.C. Martin Elementary School are just some of the projects that are included in the $57 million bond election. The election will be decided by voters of the Laredo Independent School District May 13, 2006. The Laredo ISD Board of Trustees called the election on January 25. If approved, the bond would bring the district’s total construction investment to $360 million. “The State of Texas will pay for 80 percent of the bond’s debt service while Laredo ISD residents will fund the remaining 20 percent,” said Laredo ISD Chief Financial Officer Jesus J. Amezcua. “If passed, this bond issue can help us complete the long range plan we began in 1999.”

“Our vision is to bring this district into the 21st century.” said Laredo ISD Board President Dr. Dennis D. Cantu. “Our students, parents, and community deserve a first class quality education with the building and facilities to go along with it.” Additionally, if approved, district land owners would be levied an additional 5.8 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation. On a $50,000 home (the average homestead value within Laredo ISD) the assessment in property taxes would amount to $29.00 annually, or $2.42 a month. However, property taxes for residents age 65 and over who have received a homestead exemption would not be affected. Early voting will be held May 1-9 with election day on May 13, 2006. For more information on the upcoming bond election, contact the Office of Communications at ext. 3295.

Last year, Laredo ISD voters approved the sale of $60 million in bonds for school facilities including the renovation of Shirley Field and the Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts, as well as the construction of field houses at Nixon and Martin High Schools, soccer and softball fields, a new fine arts complex, and new facilities for transportation, the child nutrition program, and instructional support.

Your source for Administrative News... Plus a whole lot more! Produced monthly for district employees by the Office of Communications and the Printing/Creative Services Department. Information may be submitted by calling the Office of Communications at 795-3295.

Board of Trustees Dr. Dennis D. Cantú President John Peter Montalvo Vice President George M. Beckelhymer Secretary Jesús J. Guerra Parliamentarian Guillermina Montes Member Jorge L. Rodríguez Member José A. Valdez Member

Office of Communications

LISD employees can lace up their tennis shoes for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) walk to be held Friday, March 31, at 10:00 a.m. The walk for LISD’s administrative staff will be held at St. Peter’s Plaza. The downtown walk is being organized by Risk Manager Alvaro Perez with the assistance of Patricia Keck, Veronica Castillon, Rosa Maria Torres, Evaristo Ortega, and Severita Sanchez.

A city-wide walk benefiting JDRF will be held on Saturday, April 1, at 8:00 a.m., at Texas A&M International University. For more information about the JDRF walk, please call Veronica Castillon at ext. 3293.


Dr. Daniel Garcia, Jr. Superintendent of Schools

LISD employees to walk for JDRF

Participants will be able to enjoy music, free refreshments, pedometers, diabetes information, glucose, and blood pressure testing, plus the camaraderie of LISD coworkers.


Nixon High School is organizing a team for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Walk to be held at TAMIU on Saturday, April 1, with the support of the Laredo Bucks. Seated from left are Steve Simoes, Philippe Lauze and David Lemanowicz. Standing from left are Jack Suneson and Les Norton representing JDRF, Nixon Principal Sylvia Rios, the Mustang Mascot, and Dinorah Garcia, who is organizing the walk team for Nixon.

Marco A. Alvarado Director of Communications Veronica Castillón, APR Public Information Officer Veronica “Roni” Cantú Community Relations Specialist Jeannette G. Martinez ITV Coordinator Mario Perez Interim Printing Supervisor Paola Arcos Publications Designer Melissa Garza Secretary/Translator It is the policy of the Laredo Independent School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, limited English proficiency, or handicapping condition in its programs.



New Mail Contractor for LISD For any school or department wanting to send overnight packages, the district will be using DHL as approved by the Board of Trustees on November 17, 2005 (RFP 05-100) The following three locations have been designated as pick up/drop off sites: • Procurement Department, 1702 Houston St. • Division of Operations, 900 E. Lyon St. • Information Technology, 2001 Cedar Ave. To ensure timely delivery, packages must be dropped off on or before 4:00 p.m. each business day. If DHL is contacted for overnight pick up to a location other than the three mentioned above, a $3.00 fee will be assessed. Drop off costs will not be incurred if overnight packages are taken to one of the three assigned LISD locations listed above or to any DHL drop off location. DHL local drop off locations are available on-line at

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To order supplies such as envelopes, boxes, printed air bills, etc., you can go online to or call 1-800-225-5345. When entering a T-4 payment for DHL, please include the assigned account number 852724642. The DHL contact person is Esteban Alvarez. He can be reached at 722-6731. For more information, call the Procurement Department at ext. 3220.

Do you know Hilda Rodriguez? She is a library clerk at J.W. Nixon High School. She has worked for LISD for 30 years. Rodriguez started working at Nixon High School in 1990 and has had perfect attendance for the last four years. She enjoys spending time with her family and her grandson.

The Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts was recently awarded a $2,500 tech award for integrating interactive technology into their curriculum. The funds will be used for technology purchases in order to enhance students learning experiences. Pictured with Best Buy representatives are Jose Cerda, director of the school and Scott Roberts, technology trainer.

Fruits and Vegetables: Do You Get Enough? The American Cancer Society recommends five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day to help prevent cancer. These foods are the best source of helpful vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that may help prevent disease. They also give you energy and help you feel great. More healthful eating tips, recipes, and easy ways to squeeze in physical activity are found in Living Smart: The American Cancer Society's Guide to Eating Healthy and Being Active. Call 1-800-ACS-2345 to request the booklet from the ACS office nearest you, or visit the website at

Paola Arcos, Publications Designer with the Office of Communications, proudly stands next to her painting which is currently on display at the Laredo Community College Art Gallery. Her painting was selected to be part of the semi-annual exhibition. Arcos enjoys taking art classes for enrichment in her spare time.

Garcia begins tenure as LISD superintendent continue from pg.1

Instruction with the 47,000-student Brownsville Independent School District, a position he held since June 2001. Other posts held at Brownsville ISD include Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Area Superintendent for the Hanna Cluster which consisted of the supervision of 11 campuses. Additionally, prior work experiences include serving as Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction at Progreso Independent School District; Executive Director of Bilingual/ESL Education with the Multilingual Education Department at Dallas Public Schools; Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Brownsville and at Texas Southmost College; and Director of Programs with the Division of Accreditation and School Improvement with the Texas Education Agency. A native of Brownsville, Garcia earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin American Studies from Austin College, a Masters in Education degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Early Childhood/Bilingual Education from the University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, he holds a Superintendent’s Certificate, a Mid-management Certificate, and a Texas Teacher Certificate in General Elementary Education. According to historical documents, Dr. Garcia becomes the district’s 14th superintendent since 1882. A+ News wishes Dr. Garcia much success in his new position.

The LISD Finance and IT departments teamed up to play basketball against Cigarroa High School. Both teams did an outstanding job but the Cigarroa Toros won the game. Pictured are the members of the Finance and IT departments along with Cigarroa staff and faculty.

With the theme, “Learning with the ITV Stars,” the Instructional Television Department constructed a float for WBCA’s youth and grand parade. The department won third place in the grand parade. Here is how other LISD schools placed:

Grand Parade J.W. Nixon High School Spurs Best Dance Squad Unit Milton Elementary School Second Place for Best Decorated Float Youth Parade Martin High School Tigerettes Best High School Dance Squad J.W. Nixon High School Best High School Band Milton Elementary School First Place Best Decorated Float.



Building Blocks Building Blocks is a column designed to update employees on construction projects within Laredo ISD. The following information is provided by the district’s construction department. Cigarroa High School held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the Dr. Margaret Cigarroa Literacy Center. Cigarroa High School students, staff, and administrators along with special guests, and members of the Cigarroa family gathered to formally dedicate the new building. The Nixon Literacy Center dedication will take place March 22. Martin High School will also have a literacy center once construction at the campus has been completed. School Construction Update: Construction of Daiches and Ryan Elementary Schools continues to progress at a fast rate, while construction is set to begin at Heights Elementary School. Construction at Christen Middle School, renovation at Cigarroa Middle School and construction of the “west wing” at Martin High School is also taking place. Additionally, construction of the Nixon High School field house continues while the Nixon High School Literacy Center and the Cigarroa High School, library have been completed. For more information on district construction projects, call ext. 3616.

Calendar of Events March 21 22


April Finance Committee Meeting J.W. Nixon High School Literacy Center Ribbon Cutting Ceremony Regular Board Meeting All campus/department budgets due

3 3-7 3-7 5 13-14 17 18 20 27

Payroll Deadline National Library Week Week of the Young Child New Employee Orientation Easter Holiday Pay Day Finance Committee Meeting Regular Board Meeting Secretary’s Day



Help available to employees

Are you experiencing depression or anxiety? Are you having relationship, family, or workplace conflicts? You can discuss these and other issues that affect your well-being with your Deer Oaks Counselor provided to you by Laredo ISD. Your free confidential Employee Assistance Program benefit includes short-term counseling and referrals for you and your dependent(s).

Ryan Elementary School teachers Sandra Gonzalez, Nora Astudillo, Carlota Benavides, and Eliza Sanchez are breast cancer survivors and want to do their part by reminding all women to conduct their monthly breast self-examination. Additionally, the local American Cancer Society is looking for cancer survivors to attend their annual “Relay for Life� event to be held May 5 & 6 at Texas A&M International University. For more information call the local office at 723-9682.

Offices are in located Laredo and throughout Texas. For more information, call the local office at 712-8820 or toll-free at 1-877-865-9383.

Pay your taxes on-line at The Laredo ISD Tax Office reminds taxpayers of the following:

AVOID PAYING ADDITIONAL PENALTY AND INTEREST CHARGES on your 2005 property taxes. Pay by Friday, March 31, 2006.

CALL ext. 3300 FOR MORE INFORMATION On February 1, 2006, all 2005 taxes were assessed penalty, interest, and attorney collection charges. A lawsuit will be filed on all delinquent accounts. Month

Percent of

Taxes Due






Fees - 15%


& Interest

(if lawsuit is filed)


March 2006






April 2006






May 2006






June 2006






July 2006






Each month starting in August 2006, the interest charges will continue to increase at the rate of 1% per month on unpaid balances of 2005 taxes and will continue to accrue until all taxes are paid.


Attention Teachers: Want to find a fun way to teach and incorporate the core curriculum into your lesson plans? Tune in to ITV on cable channel 18 and see new shows produced for you and your students. Each show incorporates TEKS objectives.

Watch. Listen. Learn!



Printing/Creative Services Department This month’s A+ Bonus Points column features the Laredo ISD Printing/Creative Services Department. The department is currently under the direction of Interim Printing Supervisor Mario Perez. Perez has been working for the department for 27 years. The office consists of a supervisor, secretary, clerk, and six printers. In July 2001, the Department expanded to include graphic artists Luis Davila and Martin Rodriguez. The Printing/Creative Services Department is located behind Cigarroa High School. How long has the printing department been in existence? “The print shop has been in existence for over 30 years. Many school districts have their own print shop to offset the costs of commercially printed material. We do about 95 percent of the printing for the school district.”

to work on bigger projects such as printing a magazine. We want district personnel to know the Printing/Creative Services Department is always ready to serve. Please call or come to our office with plenty of time so we can facilitate your request in the most efficient and professional manner.” What have you learned about being interim print supervisor? “The department has made great strides in our printing capabilities and in using state-of-the-art equipment. The Printing/Creative Services Department is always ready to serve.

What kind of work does the printing department perform? “Print jobs include publications, business forms, business cards, assessments, and other printed materials. We also do a lot of graphic designs with help from our creative services clerk and graphic artists. We’re helping the district enhance its image.” What are your goals for your department? “We want to continue to be a creative and resourceful department. We want to continue to meet the needs of our schools and departments. We would like

The LISD Printing/Creative Services Department is comprised of an Interim Printing Supervisor, Secretary, Clerk, and six printers. Pictured from left to right (back row): are Tomas Gomez, printer, Abby Alonso, secretary, Santiago Cavazos, printer, Tony Bernal, printer, Mario Perez, Interim printing supervisor. Front row: Agustin Dovalina, Jr., printer, Elias Mendiola, printer, Gilberto Martinez, printer and Gricel Rodriguez, clerk. Perez, Gomez, Dovalina, Martinez, and Mendiola have been with the district’s printing department for over 20 years.



Extra Credit

The LISD Literacy Coaches recently got to together to plan and strategize for their campus. Pictured are the Literacy Coaches with their Reading First Coordinator Helen Edewu seated in the center.

• Kudos to Wes Evans and Cathleen McCracken for pioneering the TIP 2 project at Memorial and Cigarroa Middle School campuses, respectively. The entirely new concept in educational technology includes total immersion of faculty and students. TIP steps reach far beyond simple one to one computing experiments where computers are merely adjunct to the educational process and instead completely envelope participants in technology. Teachers still facilitate learning, but they now have the technology to transcend learning beyond classroom walls and beyond the school day.

District PR efforts among best in state The Office of Communications, TSPRA Instructional Television, and the Printing/Creative Services Department garnered 15 awards for excellence in school communications at the Texas School Public Relations Association annual conference held February 22-23 in Austin.

Gold Star Awards 1. Print – Invitations/ Announcements (“LISD Retirement Dinner - South of the Border Fiesta,” Veronica Castillon/Paola Arcos) 2. Print – Published News or Feature (“Vidaurri to the Rescue,” Veronica Cantu)

2. Print – Flyer/Brochure (“Guide to Effective Media Relations,” Marco Alvarado/Mario Perez and “Superintendent Search,” Marco Alvarado/Paola Arcos/ Mario Perez) 3. Print – Calendar/Planner (“20052006 Calendar, Directory & Map,” Paola Arcos/Mario Perez) 4.

Each year, TSPRA, with more than 800 members, recognizes school communicators for outstanding work in both print and electronic media. More than 1,000 entries were received this year. Entries selected as best in state were honored with Silver Star, Gold Star, and Best of Category Awards. The following awards were received: Best of Category 1. Print – Published News or Feature (“High test scores help CHS student,” Veronica Castillon) 2. Video – News/Information (“Parenting Skills,” Jeannette Martinez/Joaquin Costilla)

3. Print – Published News Release, Edited (“ITV garners national awards,” Marco Alvarado and “Laredo ISD announces ‘Dough for Dollars’ program,” Marco Alvarado) 4. Video – Documentary (“An Instructional Journey: From the Classroom to the Board Room,” Joaquin Costilla) 5. Video – Instructional (“Kitchen Lab: Earth’s Layers,” Debbie Leija/Esteban Borjas)

Video – Special Interest/Feature Series (“Back-to-School General Session,” Jeannette Martinez/ Joaquin Costilla)

5. Video – Instructional (“Aventuras en Español: El Sistema Solar,” Ana Maria Montoya/Joaquin Costilla and “Reading Rocks! Advertisement,” Claudia Villarreal/Ruben Vela) 6. Electronic – Electronic Newsletter (“A+ News,” Marco Alvarado/Veronica Cantu/ Veronica Castillon/Paola Arcos)

Silver Star Awards 1. Print – External Newsletter (“Las Escuelas de Laredo ISD,” Marco Alvarado/Verónica Cantu/Verónica Castillon/Paola Arcos/Mario Perez)

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at ext. 3295.

The Child Nutrition Program celebrated National School Breakfast Week (March 6-10) with a breakfast at Macdonell Elementary School. The new superintendent Dr. Daniel Garcia Jr., joined district administrators, school personnel, and students to emphasize the importance of eating a good breakfast. This year’s theme was “Go places with School Breakfast.” Macdonell kitchen staff dressed up as martians as part of their outer space theme to help them get into the spirit.