Silver Consolidated Schools Superintendent Lon Streib was the featured speaker at the Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce meeting Thursday, April 3.
Before Streib spoke, Bruce Ashburn of PNM reported on how the company has benefited the community. "We partnered with Silver City MainStreet Project on the Silco marquee. From March 31-May 31, the company is accepting applications from throughout the state for four $50,000 grants and 20 grants of $15,000 each for 501c3 non-profit organizations." The details can be found at PNM.com/powerup.
Trent Petty, Silver School board president, introduced Streib and said he has done a lot for the Silver Schools. "Dr. (Joseph) Shepard (Western New Mexico University president) and Superintendent Streib are moving forward with various programs."
"I prefer to work behind the scenes, rather than behind this podium," Streib admitted. "But I'm happy to give you a report card of the schools."
He said budget time was upon them, with the Silver Schools having a $24 million budget and receiving from the state about $700,000 more for next year. "Things are well with the budget. Last spring we put together a strategic plan, a new mission and vision, as well as goals."
"We have to prepare students for something that doesn't exist yet," Streib said. "They have to know how to solve problems, analyze them and how to provide solutions. They have to know where to go for facts and what to do with them."
He listed the goals:
1) to increase school attendance;
2) implement technology;
3) instill responsibility;
4) develop a curriculum using the Common Core; and
5) create career readiness in academics, career training, structured work opportunities and workplace skills.
"We are in a transition from the old way to a new way,"Streib said. "Common Core will allow students to show what they know and quicker. We compete with the whole world."
He said on May 2 and 3, the board members and the principals would revisit the plan and the goals to see how the schools are doing. "We will do it every year, so we have a current plan in place."
The vision is for students to have 21st Century skills right out of high school, so they can go to work or get in a career path. "We are talking with Cobre Schools on the vocational education piece and looking at cooperating, as well as partnering with businesses and industry in a non-traditional setting."
He said the high school has started career pathways in welding in conjunction with Western, as well as in family services and the tourist industry.
Kids will have jobs, maybe five, six or seven of them during their lifetimes, he said. "We are standardizing the curriculum with literacy first. We are focusing calendars and the teachers are meeting monthly. We are also exchanging principals, so they can see how other schools work."
Streib said the assessment tests would be standardized and taken on computers. "We put $500,000 into technology last year and we may have to do so every year. We have a new technology director, so he can handle the assessment, careers and college readiness."
The Silver Schools will begin a summer school for five weeks for students in kindergarten through third grade at two schools this summer—6th Street and Harrison Schmitt. "The purpose is to help the students retain their knowledge from the prior year, so they don't lose it over the summer. Regular classroom teachers will teach the classes."
"During spring break, the state police will use Silver High School for active shooter training," Streib said. "Hopefully we don't have the need for it, but it's good to have them trained."
He said La Plata Middle School has a bad reputation for bullying. "The moms got together and will be in the building with an anti-bullying message. At Silver High School, the Restorative Justice program will provide a safe place for participants, so those who bully can figure out what they did and how they can resolve it. If you have kids who have been bullied, get hold of us and participate in the program."
Streib said 40 seniors are taking courses as Western, as well as 23 11th graders, 16 10th graders and 7 9th graders. "We want to open the pathways to even 8th graders."
He introduced Tony Eagan, a church pastor, as one of the board members.
Rachel Miller, resident, asked if the work skills programs were only for Opportunity School students. She also asked how students get into the Opportunity School.
"We will teach as many as we have personnel for," Streib said. "A student can opt in for the Opportunity School, if they are credit challenged, for instance."
Cynthia Bridgeman asked if the K-3 summer program was mandatory.
"We have enough for all the students, but we suspect about half will attend," Streib said.
"My grandchildren have participated and we have seen the benefits," Ashburn said.
Skip Thacker, resident, said the Common Core seems different.
"Common sense needs to prevail," Streib said. "Common Core is the same for all students anywhere at that level. How to teach the Common Core is left up to districts. We in Silver City still have our feet on the ground. One plus one is the same as when we learned it."
Linda Pecotte, resident, asked: "How did we end up with Common Core and is there a way to get rid of it?"
Streib said the program came from education people and governors chose to accept it or not. It was based on the No Child Left Behind program. "The only way to get rid of it is to convince the Public Education Department to get rid of it, with help from legislators."
Shepard announced the Black Tie and flapper-themed gala on Saturday to raise funds for scholarships at Western.
George Julian Dworin of the Silver City Arts and Cultural District announced an event from 4-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at the Visitor Center to celebrate Silver City being the first Gateway Community to the Continental Divide Trail. Veterans from the Afghan and Iraq wars will be on hand, as they walk the Continental Divide Trail from one end to the other. He was also congratulated for having an ad showing on Times Square in New York City.
Cecilia Bell of the Fort Bayard Historic Preservation Society said she had attended an Oregon and California Trails Association conference, where they discussed the Butterfield Trail, stretching from Arkansas through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona to San Diego. The group has planned its conference for Silver City next April.
Pecotte said the fundraiser for a disabled Western student was very successful, and Rotary has offered more funds for the students who are disabled.
She also announced the Copper Cowbelles annual Shindig at the Flame on April 12. The event raises money for scholarships for ag students.
Cynthia Bettison, Western museum director, announced the Rotary Auction on April 26, with funds going to three recipient groups. It will be held at the Grant County Veterans Memorial Business and Conference Center. She also said, as part of one of the museum night events, the downstairs room, which is being renovated for the public, would be open.
The next chamber luncheon will take place at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, May 1.