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Cobre School Board discusses safety plans

By Margaret Hopper

The Cobre school board returned from closed session at 7:15 on Tuesday, January 15, meeting at Central Elementary School. Frank Cordova, president, immediately opened the public session, saying they had discussed limited personnel issues and student identifiable information.

All five board members attended, but Assistant Superintendent Jose Carrillo represented Interim Superintendent George Peru in his absence, and student representative Hampton Barnette was not present with his report. With minor changes to the minutes of the December 10 meeting, the board approved the minutes of the November 12, November 26 and December 10 sessions.

Central Elementary principal Daena Davis introduced four students from grades 5 and 6, Ezequiel Dominguez, Estrella Ramirez, April Tarango and Nicole Pedraza, who read scripts explaining the differences between Common Core State Standards and New Mexico State Standards regarding college preparation.

Representatives of each school in the district made comments on safety plans. Newly reworked Central Elementary appears to have many safety measures in place, lock-down procedures, fencing, reduced entrances and other factors. Bayard Elementary is in the process of being redesigned, but at this time, many needed features aren’t available. Carrillo said architects, engineers and staff have about 60 percent of the design phase in place, with more work to be done soon.

Other factors discussed were not only the decisions about whether to train teachers in martial arts and other defenses, crisis management and student threats, but what to do to protect the schools that didn’t yet have lock-down ability. Drills, evaluations, evacuations and parent notification procedures were also mentioned.

Toy Sepulveda suggested that the information releases be carefully planned and given by a very limited list, probably the superintendent and a backup, with all others not offering information in a crisis. Rather, they should simply refer anxious individuals to that single source, to prevent adding confusion and misinformation to the problem. He stressed that public information people should not be addressed by any others than the source.

Regarding phone calls coming in during a crisis, Frank Cordova reminded attendees that the automated system was working presently, and should be helpful at such a time. Some unanswered questions about law enforcement officers and their roles in relation to school authority were put to Frank Gomez for further clarification. He said he would return with those answers in the next meeting. In general, it sounds as if the schools plan to block out the intruders, if possible, and wait for help to come to them from the outside.

Community member Frances Gonzalez cited her training with the jail system and her relations with local law enforcement. She offered to look over the district’s policies for such emergencies and help with mock training for staff. Cordova suggested that she talk with Peru about her willingness to help.

Training for board members by the state in their duties to the district was another topic. Cordova noted that these hours are required and should be finished in the next couple of months. So far, Cordova and Sepulveda have 8 hours finished, Rodriguez, 7, Kelly, 5 and Gomez, 2. Some of the work must be done in Santa Fe. Five hours is the minimum requirement for the year.

This Friday and Saturday, January 18 and 19, a retreat training session will address bilingual language and literacy. From 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, Rosa Molina, executive director of the Association for Two-way Dual Language Education will address
teachers, board members and administrators on the topic. This is a follow-up on board goals set up at an earlier retreat.

Sepulveda said training for candidates was needed before the school board elections and the state had been asked to put this on. When more information is known, Cobre will extend the opportunity to candidates from Silver District, as well. Cordova asked that community people vote for candidates who will be helpful to the kids. Sepulveda added that the 2-mill levy was not a new tax, rather a continuation of an old tax that the school depended on for operational maintenance and could not easily do without.

Frank Gomez briefed the board on how law enforcement kept the district informed on people who might be threats to students. He spoke of tracking and registration. Principal Johnny Benavidez asked if the school could have it all in a notebook; he had seen some schools which recorded where these risks lived, their level of violence, and similar information. Gomez noted that complications came when the offenders had children in school, thus having a right to be there, and their rights could not be denied. But the information was public record, and it could be obtained.

The Girl Scouts asked for an opportunity to sell cookies, and Carrillo recommended that the board permit them to sell at the February 19 basketball game. The measure passed.

The transfer of district funds to Am Bank continues. Carrillo said the amount presently in Am Bank is $4,724,537.01 but not all monies have been placed there. The transactions are expected to be complete by the next board meeting.

The meeting ended about 8:15. The next meeting will be back at the district office in Bayard, on January 28, at 7:00.

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