The Silver School Board met Thursday, September 19, at the district office on Swan. Members present were Trent Petty, board president, Chris Arvidson and Arnold Torres. Tony Egan and Deborah Eggleston were absent.
At the 5 p.m. work session, Lon Streib, superintendent, said the Silver City Education Association representatives had not ratified the negotiated agreement and were asking more than the one percent pay raise. Streib said if further negotiations resulted in impasse, the state would arbitrate between the union and the school. Streib said he would show the books, the data, to try to satisfy the inquiries. SCEA has elected new officers and he would have to learn who the new people were that the school must work with.
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Transportation Gus Benakis made a visual presentation of the new PD360 program (Professional Development), which showed the walk-through assessments for teachers, students, room settings and other observable elements of classroom activity. Benakis said at this level it was mainly observation, but would be a part of the evaluation process later. This program is one answer to the state-mandated evaluations that must take place this year.
Some of the comments were that it was quick, kept principals more visible in the building
and involved responses and interactions between teachers, students and principals, as well as offering video help for teachers who might profit from it. The Lougees, high school and elementary principals, said these administrative visits were already underway and that the response of teachers has been positive and interested. One unexpected benefit was the interest students were taking in the process, according to Benakis.
Petty brought up the question of Common Core and reports that their reading lists included materials inappropriate for many students. Assistant superintendent of learning services, Trish Martinez, countered that these ‘lists’ were not mandated and that, while suggestions were given, teachers had some input into it. The state of New Mexico does have an approved curriculum and it could be accessed for materials that should be appropriate, she said. Martinez also reported on the Back Pack Program that is about ready for student use, thanks to the help of The Volunteer Center and Alicia Edwards, its director. The Back Pack Program helps qualifying students in grades K through 12.
Strieb asked for feedback from board members regarding the Prospectors, a local group that was well connected with legislators, who had asked him to join. Board members told him they thought the help the group offered would benefit the school and approved his joining in an informal way, not as an action item.
The public session began at 6 p.m. Streib repeated that the union had refused to ratify the negotiated contract as offered and said the negotiations would continue while they tried to work through concerns. Justin Wecks, SCEA representative, said he and Diane Carasco, the other representative, would be working with the school to finish the process.
Regarding the presentation of the Fitness and Nutrition Coalition last month, Petty said the individual letters which the group sent home to parents stating that some children were obese, might be handled differently. After discussion, board members said these letters could be handled by building principals without labeling these children and without making specific policy. At least, this approach should be tried.
Assistant Superintendent of Finance, Federal Programs and Student Accountability Candy Milam’s report included information on workman’s comp as well as specific requests for approval of checks and BAR adjustments. Some corrections were made on the comp procedures without making it an action item. The checks for the month of August amounted to $853,996.77 and a $1000 donation for the Opportunity School was received from Ray Merrill.
On the Budget Adjustment Requests, $100,000 was moved back to its original position after the Student Nutrition supervisor decided the transfer had not been needed; the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables fund requested $56,350, and the operational budget was awarded $161,967 as per instructions from the Public Education Department, from a budgeting memo of effort back in June 2013. The board approved all the requests.
Milam also reported on the requested contribution to FFA for national competitions. She noted that most of the funds were raised by the students but some financial help could be given.
Benakis said Barry Ward reported that by mid-October it looked as if all the school safety suggestions the law enforcement people had made would be implemented and ready for use. Among these were the maps, the markings, the locks, etc. The board decided that having officer visibility was better than giving them a room. When officers came, they would be seen walking and making contacts. Some safety drills had already been made and they were working on the ‘hitches.' Teachers had been trained in the safety plans before the opening of the school year in August and improvements looked good. Also important, the times appeared random, not set to any pattern.
Work on the code of conduct for teachers showed that very little could be done by the local board or the school, but at state level, there was power to deny, revoke or suspend a license. This should answer Tony Egan’s request for something better from errant teachers. Streib asked how much more work needed to be done on school policies. They had read and worked on a number of them to date. The board said they would take the rest of them on an as-needed basis.
Benakis gave the board a list of activity drivers, regular drivers and a list of families who lived far enough away from the regular routes that they received vouchers for the distances that the buses didn’t cover. Cliff was a prime example of those added miles that families were paid 25 cents a mile for partially transporting their children. Amounts changed with more children involved. According to Benakis, he had audited some of the cases and found that their figures were very honest.
The next meeting will be Thursday, October 21.