By Mary Alice Murphy
Trent Petty opened the special Silver Consolidated Schools special board meeting Thursday evening.
"There will be no public outburst tonight or you will be asked to leave," Petty said. "This is a special meeting for one purpose—to name a replacement board member to fill an unexpired term until the election next year."
Four candidates applied for the position, Jennifer Yost, Cathy Maxwell, Anthony Gutierrez and Mike McMillan. Two were unable to attend because of conflicts. They submitted statements to be read.
Board member Chris Arvidson read the one from Jennifer Yost.
"I have always had an interest in education," Yost wrote. "I became a teacher in Reserve, then when we moved to Silver City, I taught English, Language Arts and French."
She said she had been retired for six years, and now has three grandchildren in the schools. Her statement told of her experience in contentious situations.
"I have found that if I keep my mouth shut and listen, usually the problem can be resolved," Yost stated.
Anthony Gutierrez was also unable to attend. In his statement, read by board member Arnold Torres, he highlighted his experience as the planning director for Grant County. He has experience in budget, procurement, contract negotiations, employee disciplinary actions and he provides a service to the public.
"I am active in local and regional projects," Gutierrez wrote. "I have multi-government relationships on the local, state and federal levels. I'm in heavily involved in land planning from subdivisions to water and wastewater. I also do grant writing and public administration."
He said because of an underskilled work force, "in order to remedy it, we need assistance from primary and secondary schools."
Gutierrez said changes in the schools seemed to be aimed primarily at those going to college. "I am the parent of four children enrolled in Silver schools."
He said the schools have deficiencies in lack of technology and an aging infrastructure.
"Whether I am named or not," Gutierrez said, "I plan to seek the board position next year."
Cathy Maxwell stepped to the podium and said she had an interest in seeking the position because her two daughters started in kindergarten in Silver Schools and graduated from Silver High School. "I have a granddaughter who will be a senior this next year."
She has a bachelor of arts degree in history and physical education and a masters from the University of New Mexico.
"It is important kids have the best education possible," Maxwell said. "It is not only the responsibility of the teachers, but the administration and the community."
She taught 21 years, part at the middle school, where she coached volleyball and track. "It was my responsibility to support my students," Maxwell said. "I spent a lot of time with students outside of school. I coached at Cobre, and my daughter played at Silver. I told her I would root for her, but hope Cobre won."
She then taught instructional support at Western New Mexico. She told of a situation where a fellow teacher stopped talking to her and she didn't know why. Finally, she asked her, found out it was a misunderstanding. and they became friends again.
"I knew I had to be professional," Maxwell said. "I treat people the way I want to be treated. I will work with you. As a board we have to work together."
She said she is willing to work and compromise, but "not to change the education of students."
Mike McMillan, born and raised in Silver City, where he graduated from high school, received a B.A. in athletic training from UNM and a master of science in sport administration.
"I have been heavily involved as an athletic training, directly employed and as contract," McMillan said. "I have experience in human resources and policy development at Southwest Bone and Joint, where I am operations officer and athletic trainer. I can bring positives to this board and district."
He serves as a member of the Gila Regional Medical Center Foundation board and as a Prospector.
"I have three kids in district schools," McMillan said. "I want the best for my kids and all the others.
"I believe most contentious situations can be resolved by open and honest discussion," McMillan concluded. "I would bring a positive outlook."
Petty asked for discussion among board members. Board member Tony Egan nominated McMillan, Arvidson seconded the nomination for discussion purposes.
Board member Arnold Torres said he would like to consider Gutierrez because of his background and the fact he could bring in grant money to the schools.
"They are all good candidates," Torres said. "It's a tough choice."
Egan concurred that any one of the four would be good. "I don't think not being here was a hindrance. They expressed themselves well."
The choice came to a vote and McMillan was chosen unanimously and sworn in by Board President Trent Petty.
McMillan told the Beat: "I'm excited to serve on the board and hopefully can help move things forward. To fill the vacancy is an opportunity to get my feet wet for a run. I had run in the past, so it's always been an interest. I will do the best job at it that I can.
Petty told the Beat the candidates were excellent. "I'm excited McMillan will be on the board. We will get him some training ASAP."
Egan said he feels McMillan will represent the district well. "I'm really happy we had four good candidates."