VISD superintendent sparks excitement among community leaders

July 17, 2012 at 2:17 a.m.
Updated July 18, 2012 at 2:18 a.m.



Before they even shook the man's hand, business and education leaders said they knew Robert Jaklich's background would bode well for the community.

Armed with enthusiasm, dozens turned out to the PumpHouse Riverside Restaurant to officially meet Victoria's new superintendent at a reception Tuesday night.

"There's certainly a renewed energy in the city," said Gabe Lopez, chairman-elect of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce. "Anytime you get a fresh outlook, a new way to advance VISD ... that can be exciting."

Jaklich started leading the district on July 1, and he's running on the fumes of excitement, too.

"Victoria ISD and the city of Victoria - it's truly an exciting place to be right now. Our best years are right ahead of us," Jaklich said.

The VISD school board organized the meet-and-greet to allow elected officials, higher education leaders, business owners and VISD leaders the chance to meet the man they've heard so much about.

Jaklich left his post as superintendent of Harlandale ISD having garnered the district several accolades - like being named the best district in San Antonio and one of the best places in which to work. Jaklich also left amidst the praise and disappointment of colleagues, students and even the San Antonio mayor, according to news reports from San Antonio.

"We're pretty excited with the skills he's bringing from his old district," Dewayne Merriman, purchasing manager at Caterpillar, said at the reception. "I think we already have a good school system. It's just raising the bar."

University of Houston-Victoria President Phil Castille said he's already talked with Jaklich about how the two institutions could work together to provide dual enrollment - or college credit - for high schoolers.

"He comes highly recommended, and we think he will be a great partner for higher education in Victoria at UHV and (Victoria College)," Castille said.

Jaklich said he's spent his short time in Victoria listening to ideas from the community and from within VISD. First on his agenda was finding out some of the challenges the district faced, he said, and coming up with a game plan to fix them.

"We get the opportunity to help incorporate partnerships and dialogue as to how we can (make) Victoria ISD the district we all aspire it to be," he said.

Board President Tami Keeling said the conversation should continue after Tuesday's reception, which is just the beginning of collaboration with all members of the community.

"We'll start fanning out from (here)," she said. "We just want to welcome him and show him off. We're very excited."



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