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laney swears in diazThe Silver Consolidated Schools Board of Education Special Meeting took place Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at 5:30 pm in the board room of the Silver Schools Administration Building.

Board President Mike McMillan called the meeting to order and explained the action items for the evening to nominate, appoint, and swear in the new district 4 board member. Other action items included nominating and electing a Silver Consolidated School Board Vice President. Before these items the board heard presentations from the candidates.

The first candidate to speak was Seth Trager. Trager moved to Silver City six and a half years ago from Gilbert, AZ. He studied economics and political science in college and continued his education, receiving an MBA in finance. Trager’s interest in joining the board stemmed from a desire to help the district as a whole. Trager proved he is able to listen to people vent their frustration and follow up with effective conversation. He also has several friends and family members he can draw on as resources, many of whom are involved in various school systems.

Michelle Diaz was second to present. She brought a unique perspective and has previously voiced her opinions at board meetings. Diaz said, “you can only complain so much...then you need to be part of the solution,” which is why she announced her candidacy. Diaz has a background in women’s and family health, children in the school system, and a husband who is a coach and teacher. Her multi-angle perspective may be an asset to this position. Diaz said she wants people to have a good experience, kids to be a priority, and for her to be a part of the solution.

Ashley Montenegro asked, “You’re on so many boards, do you have time in your schedule?” Diaz said both no and yes - that currently she does not have a lot of free time but that she will make time because it is a priority.

Next Otto Khera spoke to the board. Khera is also from Arizona but came to Silver City in 1995. He co-founded Desert Exposure and has worked at Western New Mexico University. His passion is helping people learn and his doctoral work has been in rural education in America. Khera believes in public education but sees problems, not in this area in particular but in America as a whole. Khera wishes to work on retention and attainment problems to ensure learners are going through the system and gaining the experience they need.

Montenegro asked if Khera has served on a board before. Khera said he has, in various capacities, most recently on the board at Guadalupe Montessori School and previously on a neighborhood council when he lived in Los Angeles. “With your children attending Montessori, and Aldo Leopold, why are you so interested this position?” she continued. Khera explained most of the youth in the area attend Silver Consolidated Schools and he wants to help better the community. Montenegro said Khera has a wealth of knowledge and could be used as a consultant, but is unsure if he understands the role of board member.

Following Khera, Nicolas Bobo approached the board. Bobo grew up in SIlver City and is a graduate from Silver High School. He graduates from Western New Mexico University on Friday and plans to continue his education. He has four children, two of whom are in the Silver Consolidated School System and has seen the needs of special education students and heard effects of bullying. Bobo wants to be an ear for issues and to help make changes. He wants to be involved and work for the greater good. Board member Patrick Cohn asked how Bobo intends to be an ear for students and teachers, and Bobo said when he had problems in the past communicating with the school administration he was able to get through with the help of the school board and he would be part of that process.

The last candidate was Nancy Stephens, who grew up in Indiana with teachers for parents. Stephens moved to New Mexico to attend graduate school at New Mexico State University where she received her master’s degree in social work. Stephens said she is a hard worker and wants to ensure the education provided is the best available. Stephens is analytical, evaluates data, and puts care into learning. She believes a healthy school system includes a strong board.

McMillan said each candidate has the experience and qualifications to be on the board and that, “It is humbling to have this many applicants.”

Montenegro said when she was a candidate there were only two people and thanked the candidates for wanting to be part of the team.

Cohn said seeing this much interest from the community is awesome.

“With so many candidates, this is a sign the district is moving in the right direction,” McMillan said.

Superintendent Audie Brown said it was nice to see so many people step up for an unpaid position.

Montenegro nominated Seth Trager for the district 4 position, but with no second the motion died.

Cohn nominated Michelle Diaz, which brought a second from McMillan, and the board voted with all in favor of the appointment. Magistrate Judge Maurine Laney was present to swear in Diaz as the district 4 seat on the board.

Cohn then nominated Montenegro to be the Silver Consolidated School Board Vice President with a second from McMillan and all members voting in favor.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:22 pm.

Live from Silver City

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