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Cobre School Board announces new superintendent

Cobre School Board Members met at the District Office in Bayard  on Monday, June 24 with a generous attendance from the community of about forty people or more. It opened promptly at 7:00 p.m. as Toy Sepulveda announced that the closed session had begun at 6:01 p.m. with discussion on student identifiable information regarding an incident at the high school, some possible pending litigation, and discussion of the new superintendent’s contract.

In the brief meeting Interim Superintendent George Peru said there was no unfinished business, and at the first public input, there were no comments. During the administrative portion it was announced that the board had approved the hiring of Robert Mendoza, the new superintendent, formerly of Clint, Texas, at a salary of $100,000 for the year. The contract is for a single year at this time. The Independent School District of Clint has a student population of about 12,500 students.


After the appointment and contracting, Mendoza received the congratulations of the board and other administrators in the room. Mendoza’s wife, Irene, and son, Lee, a 5th grade teacher still employed in Clint, were also in attendance. Mendoza said he had done his student teaching at Cobre some 7 or 8 years in the past while he was a student at WNMU. Peru said he would be returning to his former position of deputy superintendent of operations there in Cobre this next school year.  

In Peru’s report, he said he had worked with the state to get the $10,500,000 award concluded to work on Bayard Elementary and bring it up to a higher security level as with the recent work on Central Elementary in Santa Clara, and Snell earlier. Ordinarily, these work sessions at state level took less than an hour. On this project, they had worked a solid three hours to negotiate the terms, but the money was on its way.

He said it had been hard work to get this funding in place, and where work was expected to begin last November, it was just now getting started. The asbestos work would be finished in another two weeks and the construction work would follow. It would take about 11 months to do it, and by next August it should be completed. The good news was that they should be able to pay off these loans before they actually fell due.

Peru said that planning had been more inclusive on Bayard Elementary, with staff and principals working together for a totally different design. As national incidents were increasing, the security environment was upgraded considerably. The work at the high school was needed, but was probably about five years away.

Six sixth graders who were hoping to go to Washington, D.C. shortly for a national leadership conference asked the board for help. As explained to the board, the funds the kids had worked to raise were put in a bank account separate from regular school funds, but a thousand dollars had been deposited under the school umbrella and they had been told it was quite difficult to get those funds once they entered the wrong  account.

The students said the needed funds should be in the proper place by Friday and they didn’t know how to get them there. Sepulveda said they would work on this to get changeover made in the proper way, but it would take some doing. The actual trip would start about July 28.

The wrestling coach asked for help with a website that he said would help his wrestlers get attention online and also help students improve academically. He said there were fine lines about recruitment but that a site that had good photos and statistics for the students could allow them to be seen by interested recruiters  legally and improve their chances. Sepulveda said the coach should check with administrators and also review board policy.
The update on the Forest Service’s use of San Lorenzo Elementary as a home base in the recent Silver Creek fire was ongoing. As it appears that the school is well used by the agency and people coming there for planning and conferences, perhaps for another four or five weeks, the students who would ordinarily use the school during summer sessions will be bused in to Bayard. Peru said the children could use Bayard Elementary for their needs in July and San Lo should be available again for its usual use when school starts again in August.

The second public information saw a number of people making comments about the new superintendent and the work of Peru until now.

The next board meeting will be scheduled for Monday, July 8, at the district office. Some business to be taken up at that time will be the final evaluation for Peru as interim superintendent and the possibility of renaming the Performing Arts Center to honor Chuck Earheart, music instructor who has successfully taken fourteen top positions in state band competitions. As noted last board meeting, it is less usual for a public building to be named for a living person, but legislation which might have prevented this did fail in the legislative session. Cobre residents are hopeful that Earheart should have this honor.

The meeting ended before 7:30 and many community people stayed afterward to meet the new superintendent and his family, as well as to thank George Peru for his past service.

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