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Cobre Schools audit receives highest commendation

The Cobre school board met at the District Office on Monday, November 11, 2013. The members were in closed session at 6:01 p.m. to discuss student identifiable information and limited personnel issues, according to board president Toy Sepulveda. The public session began at 7:15 with members Sepulveda, Fran Kelly, Frank Cordova and Robert Montoya in attendance. Member Frank Gomez was absent for personal reasons. No actions were taken.

Mike Stone of Stone, McGee & Company of Silver City spoke to the board about the district’s annual state audit, recently completed. Stone said the audit had been approved by the state and had already been made public, with unmodified opinion, the highest commendation. He commented that Cobre had assets in excess of $47 million in terms of buildings, land and other properties, and in this audit, they were all in place.

Stone noted that the audit was in to the state on time, but that both he and Paul Ryan had missed the deadline for submitting the audit contract, a mistake made due to the sequence in years related to the three-year contract work that had differing deadlines. The missed deadline was slight, but he and Ryan had made sure there wouldn’t be a repeat in the future.

Superintendent Robert Mendoza presented the board members with a letter from the Public Education Department congratulating Cobre Consolidated Schools for successfully completing the corrective action required by the findings in the Tier II audit, pertaining to the Special Education program and past issues. The letter stated that the district had met the fiscal noncompliance concerns as well as the timelines for correcting the noncompliance in the past. Cobre’s SPED budget is now cleaned up. Sepulveda said this was one letter that should be framed. Mendoza recommended that the board approve the audit findings, and that was done without further discussion.

Mendoza recommended that they also approve the bills they had reviewed for the past month’s expenses. The amount was $1,035,461.11 and the vote was unanimous. He asked Ryan to explain an adjustment in the budget regarding the Ed Tech Debt Services. Ryan said the district had a nine thousand dollar deficit in the tax revenue for this year for
changes recently made, but this action would remove that negative and clear the books. The board approved that action.

A third action was a transfer in the operational budget on benefits. Ryan said salaries had been increased in an earlier action, so they would likely need this change on benefit amounts to prevent a lack later on in the year. The board agreed and voted to make the change.

Under the superintendent’s report, Central Elementary had asked permission to raise funds, the Special Education Audit had a report, (timelines had been met,) early dismissal and fall break were scheduled, and NM Athletic Association had changed Cobre’s classification.

On the NMAA changes, Cobre was moved from 2A to 4A status, making it the second smallest school in the conference, which Pat Abalos, athletic director, said would be serious competition for all the Cobre sports groups in the coming year. With 347 students against other schools with up to 700 students enrolled, Abalos said it was time to protest. He and Superintendent Mendoza would file the appeal papers and hope for a change. Zuni was the school smaller than Cobre, with 333 students, and it had chosen to drop state competition status. After all the preparation work, Abalos said they would have only 10 minutes to make their case before the state committee for the appeal.

The early dismissal would be this Wednesday, November 13, for staff development, which school principals will conduct. Fall break is scheduled for November 25 through 29, with administration offices closed from 27 through 29. The Central Elementary fundraiser requested permission to get community donations and pledges on November 21-22, with a goal of raising $10,000. The board approved all these actions.

Emanuel Reynolds, student representative to the board, reported losses of the football team to Hatch and the volleyball team to Tularosa. The students in the National Honor Society were collecting foods with the cooperation of Food Basket. The four high school classes were competing in the food drive. This past weekend they had collected seven boxes of food and $225.00 and would collect again this coming weekend.

In the public input, period assistant superintendent Jose Carrillo congratulated Frank Ryan, financial agent, and Peru and Salas, who had helped him, for meeting the deadlines and state requirements for the corrections recently made on the Special Education budgeting for the district.

In another public request, Robert Mata, a parent, asked the board for a hearing in closed session regarding the bullying of his daughter. Mata said he had appealed to others earlier and an appeal to the board was his last hope. Sepulveda told him to schedule this with the board secretary, Irene Rodriguez, to get this in place. He was reminded that because of the fall break days, there would not be another board meeting until December 9, but that it would be considered.

Pat Abalos said there was a first round football playoff at state level at Bayard this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. between Cobre and Eunice.

The board adjourned before 7:50 p.m.

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