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Cobre School Board hears financial breakdown

By Margaret Hopper

Cobre school board met Monday, October 28, 2013, at the district office in Bayard for the second meeting of the month. Toy Sepulveda, board president, called the meeting to order a little before 7:10 p.m. and said that the closed portion had begun at 6:00 p.m., where student identifiable information, limited personnel and the teacher evaluation process were discussed, but no actions had been taken. All five members were present.

As an update on unfinished business, a very brief note about some wording on the use of facilities by the wrestling program, the Grapplers, was mentioned. Under Administration, the ROTC program was given focus with its recent increased role. The instructor, Sgt. Anthony Ramirez of Deming, was able to introduce seven of his Deming cadets and answer questions about a Cobre program that was in the application process.

A senior named Ramos told of her leadership experience and her rank of major. Another cadet, Rivera said she was the executive officer for the group. Argott, sophomore, carries the adjutant duties; Wiese is a second lieutenant and responsible for discipline. Cadet Captain Jackson spoke of community involvement. Cortez, a junior, said he plans to go to the U.S. Naval Academy and become a career officer. Creager spoke on discipline and citizenship.

Cortez, Creager and Argott were on the marksmanship team. A number of activities were mentioned and an aide showed the board the training video supplied by the area battalion that will be shown to Cobre 8th graders and others for recruitment. The battalion covers New Mexico and other nearby states such as Texas, Utah, Colorado and Arkansas.

Ramirez said the program covers all four years of high school and there are separate manuals for each grade. Classes are held daily. Citizenship and discipline are major goals of JROTC, with plenty of activities and training, plus U.S. government, geography and special topics. The board was asked to approve the Cobre application to the battalion. It is estimated that about 160 students have signed up for the program. Adults commented that these cadets showed confidence and competence, and looked great in their uniforms.

 Cobre students of 2012-2013 were awarded the Directors Cup for the 2AA division by the New Mexico Activities Association. Five other schools in the state received the same trophy in different divisions, determined by school size and heavy student participation.  Principal Johnny Benavidez said this was an all-activities award, which included sports, music and a host of other student efforts.

Pat Abalos, athletic director, said this was a big, big award and it meant a lot. While Cobre excels in athletics, Benavidez said the target is improved academics at all levels. Another correlation he noticed is that many of the best athletes were also on the honor roll. Fifty-five percent of the high school students had made it, and 65 percent of Snell.  

Emanuel Reynolds, student representative to the board, said recently he and some other class representatives had met with the cafeteria manager and staff, asking for changes in the food menu and increased portions, as many students wanted more than was served. After students had made their points, Reynolds said the food staff explained why they had to serve certain foods (federal guidelines) whether students liked them or not, and they also could not increase plate portions simply because someone wanted more. But, he said, they said they could serve additional food to students who were willing to pay for the extra portion, in fairness to those just getting the standard servings.

During the public input, board member Frank Cordova brought up a concern about care of the new track. He noted that it had cost quite a price and people who understood how important that asset was, and how easily it could be damaged, needed to step forward and help hold the standard for both the school and the community at large. The incident was that two limousines had crossed the track at the recent homecoming and that  
treatment was hard on it. Even high heels walking on it were not good for it. There had also been reports of bikes and skateboards on it, even strollers at community events.

Abalos agreed that this had happened. He explained that the homecoming staff had wanted to give the kids all the emotional highs they could, and they allowed the limos to drive over the track. The rug cover had not protected it well and they would have to make corrections for future events. Toy Sepulveda commented that in the past they had stopped even fire department trucks from risking the track, and that all those who knew how fragile the track was, should help protect it. Cordova agreed that tax dollars and the bond passage had paid a lot for the good track, and that it couldn’t be taken lightly.

Superintendent Mendoza gave the board a copy of the letter of thanks he had sent to Freeport McMoRan for the recent donation of $10,000 that would help students attend the meetings and competitions that enriched their educational experiences. The board approved the cost of supplying breakfasts to children at Bayard Elementary and Central. The amount set for this was $18,057.05.

In the review of bills, which the board approved, the operations budget accounted for $980,389.69 expenses, which included utilities, book, computer and paper supplies, maintenance and repair and a host of other items. The activity fund bill of $19,461.39
covered food, sportswear, senior graduation items, graphics, soft drinks, etc.

Special revenue expenses of $198,810.33 paid mainly for transportation and payroll. Some funds went for fuel, fees for an attorney, press expenses, bank expenses. Food service bills of $76,318.28 paid for food, payroll and some paper supplies. Building funds of $103,583.25 and Senate Bill 9 funds of $131,045.42 went to contractors for automated controls, architects, environmental services, consulting, and engineering, much of it directed to the renovation of Bayard Elementary. Superintendent Mendoza said the district was being very transparent with its finances and records.

The board signed a resolution that state teacher evaluation regulations be postponed and reworked for improvements. The resolution joined those of many other districts and will be sent to New Mexico Department of Public Schools. Vicky Smith’s name was brought up as a potential reviewer, as she had helped with similar work in the past.

The meeting ended at 8:00 p.m.

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