By Margaret Hopper
The Silver District school board met Thursday, March 21, 2013 at the District Office on Swan. The meeting began at 5 p.m. with the three newly elected members, Arnold Torres, Chris Arvidson, and Tony Egan, joining President Trent Petty in attendance. The reorganization took place in the second session, with Petty returning as president, Torres voted in as vice-president, and in her absence, Debbie Eggleston was voted to remain the board secretary. There was no local swearing-in as the new members had already been sworn in while at Santa Fe in their initial training.
What appeared to be a very full agenda turned into a rather light session, as those responsible for presenting items scheduled were not present. The workshop session beginning at 5 saw two assistant principals, Luis Alvarez and Marcella Marquez, distributing a report of high school information to the board.
Alvarez admitted disappointment in the state’s grading of the high school as an over-all D grade in 2010-11, and an F in 2011-12, but added that because of the low rating, any and all improvements would turn the picture around more quickly, and this was already happening. Some of their bonus points and other credits had not been properly counted at PED (Public Education Department in Santa Fe) and might or might not be added later.
Students were now in a testing period that would last three weeks, with spring break to follow. He and others said it was better to delay the break than to start testing, have the break, then resume testing later, as this could easily see test grades drop; it was better to do it all and get it over with.
A number of topics were included in the report. Some highlights included a graduation rate of 86.5 percent covering the last class from grades 9 to twelve, a respectable rate in the state. The growth rate in both highest performing students and lowest performing students should also boost the next state assessment of district students, said Alvarez.
The report viewed college and career readiness, a long list of events students could participate in, sports programs, professional development, numbers of students participating in athletic events, tutoring help offered by the JPPO program and its impact on both attendance and grade improvements. The board voiced approval for the report and thanked Alvarez and Marquez for the thorough job they did.
Superintendent Lon Streib spoke of a visit from Kate Clark of Albuquerque who had demonstrated what her ‘drug-dogs’ could do and how she would report if given the contract to do the work. She also offered a bid as a result of her visit. In discussion, board members remarked that, as a private firm rather than a law enforcement entity, there would be some choice about how to handle cases of student abuses.
Streib said there could be some potential for working with parents to address the problems, whereas if law enforcement personnel were used, there would be automatic arrests without any options. The board said it would check further into the drug-dog work, and it might be possible to get two visits in before the school year was out.
The Altamirano Sports Complex planning is coming along, said Streib. A meeting this past week included City Manager Alex Brown, Dr. Koury, Streib and others. The heavy water-using facility will have new controls on sprinklers to reduce water use, and by agreement, cars will not be allowed on the fields inside the gate, to rehabilitate the grass conditions as soon as possible. Also, those playing fields will not be used until fall.
The superintendent reported that New Mexico National Education Association negotiators have ground rules in place and work should begin after spring break. The unions have three representatives and Silver would have Trish Martinez, Streib and a lawyer on the team. He expected the work to be done and the agreement in place before the end of the school year.
New board members asked about visiting schools in the district. Petty said in times past, he, the superintendent and others visited a school as a group on certain days and then went to lunch together later. It was important to remember that teachers are working and not try to claim their time. They could make plans to do this again soon.
The work session ended at 5:45 p.m. and the second session began at 5:58. A group of 15 to 20 relatives, friends and organization representatives came to support Serina Pack, now a WNMU college student, present her motivational program called "For the Love of Art and the Read for Joy Program." Pack has free books to give to children attending from the Literacy Link-Leamos program, and the promise is that each child will also receive a set of watercolors and a calendar to help chart the reading progress. This was packaged in a colorful, well-written video.
At its conclusion, Pack and others asked the district to continue supporting her efforts. Circle K International for Kiwanis and both American Legion and its Auxiliary repeated this request, saying support for Pack would support all of them, including helping raise New Mexico’s very low reading levels in the local area.
Petty said the two board goals of creating a local Vo Tech and developing individual learning plans for all students were very much alive. The state was now mandating a similar learning plan and asking districts for a five-year plan that would lead to this same tracking system. He credited Trish Martinez for major work on the plan’s progress.
Action items requiring a board vote included donations of $500 from the Moose Club and another $500 for Silver FFA from the Health Club. New board members Egan and Torres reviewed the check totals of $2,219,137.34 for the first time, with the help of Candy Milam. She also requested a budget adjustment for teacher/principal recruitment funds, $79,275.71 and dual credit instruction materials, $1,859. These items were approved, as well as a resolution to provide insurance to eligible part-time employees, who worked less than 20 hours per week.
In April, there are plans to have the sheriff go over the comprehensive plan for protecting the district’s children in the event of a violent attack. The open sessions closed at 6:45 and the board and superintendent went into closed session to discuss limited personnel, collective bargaining issues and deliberations by a public body.