By Margaret Hopper

The Cobre school board met at the district office on Monday, January 27. The earliest meeting was at 5:05 p.m. when the board discussed the superintendent’s evaluation and the 2014-2015 contract, as well as their own self-evaluations. All five board members were present; Fran Kelly, Frank Gomez, Robert Montoya, Frank Cordova and Toy Sepulveda. Sepulveda said no decisions had been made in either that or the 6:00 p.m. session.

At 6 the board went into the usual closed session, where they discussed student identifiable information and limited personnel, plus the evaluations and contract. The board came into the public area at about 7:20 and the meeting began before 7:25.

Under administration, Superintendent Robert Mendoza recommended that the board adhere to the second reading of the graduation requirements portion, Alternate Demonstration of Competency #316-1, which was again approved, and a third reading on the policy on electronic cigarettes. With its approval, it became school policy.

The board approved a donation from Southwestern New Mexico Society for Mining and Exploration for $1,000, which will allow teacher choices on how to spend that amount at Snell Middle School. Some choices included supplies, activities or field trip expenses. Kelly asked that care be taken to assure that such choices be in compliance with Title IX requirements.

Regarding the evaluation of the superintendent, the board approved its acceptance, and in another action, set his 2014-2015 salary at $103,000, starting July 1. The list of checks written during the past month was reviewed and the members passed the expenses of $945,318.99.

In the superintendent’s report, Mendoza asked George Peru, who has taken responsibility for the Bayard Elementary renovation project, to report on it. In a state publication, there were photos of the work being done and Peru gave each board member a copy of the magazine. In his information, Peru said they had finished 6,000 square feet of metal roofing at this time. Workmen could usually do about 1,500 square feet per day, and should finish Friday. So far, nearly $400,000 had gone into the roof work, exterior, and ceiling work on the inside.

The work is about a week behind, due to the need for developing a media center. The gym is nearly two months behind, he said. Stucco work has begun and sheet rock had started that day, Monday. Insulation was up to R25. Security wise, a system of “buzzing in” people would keep front doors locked until a receptionist allowed them to enter. The front doors have been replaced with those allowing for this security improvement.

A major problem facing the district was the low land the school was on, and drainage problems remained. Peru said civil engineers at state level had insisted that a sidewalk be
constructed in one place, and people on site knew it shouldn’t be done. He had resorted to sending photos and getting statements from nearby businesses, such as the HMS Clinic, the Family Dollar Store and others to explain that their water drained into the school’s land, requiring different solutions. It is being redesigned because of these facts.

Playground equipment for Bayard Elementary is new in this renovation effort, so the usable older equipment was sent to other schools in the district that needed it. Some items have another ten or fifteen years of use. Peru mentioned that in building Central Elementary, it had taken three long meetings with school staff before color choices for rooms, carpeting, tiles and other interior furnishings had been agreed upon. This time, he had handed it over to the staff at Bayard Elementary and at the last board meeting, Joyce Barela, principal, said they had reached decisions. "This way was much easier," Peru said.

In a related issue, Copper Little League was going to have a rough April, May and June schedule because it had used Bayard Elementary’s fields in the past, but it would have to  make other arrangements when and where it could. The Bataan Memorial Park baseball field near Fort Bayard did not have lights, but its facilities could be used for day games. Other fields in the area would have to be used, too.

Negotiations are going on with the city for the use of gray water on the fields. The district is still comparing the expences between gray and fresh water; no decisions can be made until the city determines what expenses would be needed for making the changes.

Mendoza mentioned the computer problems at San Lorenzo, which had to do with a lack of cabling and technology. It looked like they would not be able to test all the children at the same time, because “the computers will bog down.” Sepulveda, who lives in that area, said he had problems with his computer for the same reasons.

Also in Mendoza’s report, he informed the board of the fundraisers student groups had requested. The Marching Band is raising funds for the Hyde family that lost its home to fire in December. Sepulveda said they should consider opening a separate bank account for the funds that might be coming in for the family. The funds will go 100 percent to the family. Cobre baseball is selling chances for money prizes to raise funds. The Cobre Restoration group asked for inclusion in concessions receipts.  

In Public Input time, this reporter asked what was being done about the VoTech plan. Sepulveda said nothing was happening at this time. Two cafeteria vans that Mendoza said were seriously needed for safety reasons are in Albuquerque. He said when Ryan has all the paper work finished, they will send a group to get them. Present vans are “ancient."

Sepulveda added that so many people have confusion about what board members can and cannot do, the board should write a page on some of these points and put these papers where patrons can get them easily. Some should be placed at the sign-in desk at board meetings, too, he said.  

The meeting adjourned just before 8:00 p.m. The next meeting will be at Snell Middle School on February 10.

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